Sleepy Revolution

I like a good mattress as much as the next person. And maybe it’s because our matress is rather sucky that I noticed this strange phenomenon lately. It’s really, dare I say, epidemic.

Within a 2-mile radius from my apartment I have counted EIGHT Sleepy’s mattress stores. I can’t think of any other chain that has 8 outlets in this same area. Not, Not McDonalds, and not even Starbucks, if you can believe that. It begs the question: what is going on here?

Are people just not sleeping? Probably, yes. I know I am not. But I would also venture to guess that mattresses have a high profit margin as well. I mean, two of the eight Sleepys by my house have “Grand Opening” on them, and they are less than half a mile from each other. How can they both be profitable? I know all about the economic theory that a rising tide lifts all boats and all, but this seems to be somewhat out of control. Are expensive mattresses just a big scam?

What is all this hoo-ha about temperpedic (sp?), sleep number and isotonic-foam? Do you really sleep better if you drop a grand on a bed?

Man, I have SO MANY questions about this.

hrvatski!

No, no need to say “gesundheit” in response! I am starting Croatian (Hrvatski) lessons after work tonight. I have signed on for 10 weekly lessons at LanguaWorld here in the city. I have tried and tried to get into learning the language via tapes and CDs (even uploading to my ipod to facilitate), but I realized I need the discipline of a teacher to kick my butt into gear. Plus, reciting Dobar dan, govorim malo hrvatski (good day, I speak a little Croatian) over and over again on the train probably would not be very pleasant for my fellow train companions.

I am a little worried about the school.

I had to pay in cash up front, after a lot of confusion regarding whether or not I am entitled to a 20% discount (apparently I am not.) Then today I get an email that said my teacher was in a car accident this afternoon… did I read about it? (no) And that class is cancelled. But then I got an email and a call saying, We have a subsitute, can you still come? (yes).

Well, I am going to be positive and envision an engaging teacher, bright fellow peers, and me speaking passable Croatian after 10 weeks are up. Sretno! (good luck!)

Open Letter to Today’s Youth

Dear Youth,

I know how hard it is to look for a job out in this crazy world. Believe me, I’ve been there. I have been there rather recently in fact. As I am somewhat older and marginally wiser, let me offer you some advice when it comes to applying for a job.

1) Always provide a cover letter for your resume detailing why you are applying for the job and how you think you’d be a good fit for the position/organization. It is especially important that you do this when the job description actually asks you to. The following does not a cover letter make:

Dear Sirs [ehm, I am a madam! Why don’t people address letters ‘dear madams’? but I digress],

Here is my resume.

Sincerely,

Joe.

2) Did you know people used to have to actually buy a newspaper and send actual paper letters of application? Email and the Internet sure make applying for jobs a lot easier. But for the sweet love of Moses, Youth, do me a favor and please do not send your career hopes from BootyCucaracha@blahmail.com or DocLoverPimp@blahmail.com. It’s like my mom always told me, You never get a second change to make a first impression and like it or not, for better or worse, your email address says more about you than you think.

3) DO NOT, under any circumstances, WEAR FLIPFLOPS to an interview. I don’t care if your water main broke and the only dry pair of shoes are your rubber pink thongs that just happen to match your pretty blouse. It’s NEVER OK to wear flippies to an interview.

OK Kids, that’s it for now. You can thank me later.

Love,

Mamma Interravision.

Fish and Flowers

Working the Philly Flower show was an exercise in endurance. Getting to the convention center by 7:15am and working the booth until 9:30pm was a bit grueling, especially when we lost the hour of sleep on Saturday night.
The worst part, however, was that the folks I was working with from the Irish Tourist Board would take off for the Pub at 7:30, leaving me and my ridiculous sense of work ethic, to finish out the show on my own. Sure, I was invited to go along for a pint, but I just couldn’t leave the stand when I could potentially make 10 or 100 more sales for the evening. Thanks Mom and Dad for making me a slave.
The best part of the show was having the chance to walk around the hall and see all the exhibits before the crowds came in. I got some pretty fun pictures out of it. I also got some nice shots at the Reading Market, where I would hang out for lunch each day. Sadly I didn’t get the picture I wanted, a pretty Amish girl texting on her hot pink Motorola cell phone.
Here are a few favorites, the rest are found in my flickr account:

Me and My Ethic Hard at Work





Cultural Leftovers

I like to cook, but being of Italian blood, it is impossible for me to cook just for one or two people. There is ALWAYS extra. But thankfully we live in a world where there is a plethora of tupperware-like items to choose from. Ohhh…pretty:

Ahh. I love tupperware.

So anyway. I cook alot and often. Back in Boston, my refridgerator (did I spell that right?) was often filled to the gills with random plastic boxes of pastas, veggies, sauces, etc. It seems like a sin to me to throw food away, so I don’t. I just wait for it to get moldy and gross in my fridge and THEN I throw it away. Doesn’t that make sense? I wouldn’t want to, you know, waste good food. Wasting bad food though is another think all together.

Recent Conversation during lunch:
Damir: Sweet, you really are a wonderful person, did you know that?

Me: Oh that’s so nice of you. Why do you say that?

Damir: You always think ahead. You’re always like three steps in front of us.

Me: Um, what do you mean?

Damir: Like
you cook food and keep it in the fridge so it is there to eat all week.
Me: Huh?

You see, in the Damir Family culture they really don’t do leftovers. They cook enough for whomever is eating and the remaining scaps, what little there would be, gets trashed. No tupperware necessary.

So, given my unemployed state of mind, I really started to think about this. Are leftovers so very American? Afterall, Tupperware was invented in 1945 by a dude named Earl Tupper here in the good ole` US of A, Flordia I think.

Recalling the size of my fridge in Amsterdam, which was no larger than most bar refridgerators you’d find in a small college dorm room, I can see why you wouldn’t want to was the precious cool space on old food. Is it a question of space?

Maybe the reticence to over produce comes from experiencing the war they lived through back in Yugoslavia. I would imagine that food, especially fresh vegetables, was in limited supply during the long war in the Balkans. One would have to become accustomed to cooking just what was necessary.

Well, I will have to do some more investigating before I can get to the bottom of this. In the meantime I leave you with hysterical Dutch cartoon which clearly is a satirical commentary on the mass production of food amongst the upper-class:

Hm. Man, I need a job.

Snippets

My efforts to find a new gym have not yet been fruitful. I did go to Bally Total Fitness where a man with a huge beer gut and hickey on his neck showed me the facilities. Eww.

****

People like to put flags on their cars here. So far, I have encountered the following flags:

– US
– Israel
– Mexico
– Italy
– Boston College (?)
– Yankees
– Mets

****

There is a nail salon on every other corner and 9 out of 10 women here sport fake nails. I feel the peer pressure to have mine done.

Emotional Debris

I didn’t plan to go to Ground Zero. It just sort of happened.

I woke up before dawn yesterday after a night of tossing and turning. At 5am I woke up D. and asked him if it was crazy to just go down there. Now. At 5am. He said “of course it isn’t crazy, you should go”. That’s one of the reasons why I love him. He gets it.

I was already on the Long Island Express to Penn Station before the sun rose.

I exited Penn Station at 34th Street and just started walking. I walked all the way down to the Financial District taking in Chelsea, the West Village, Soho and Tribeca along the way. The sky was very very blue (just like it was 5 years before, they say) and the air was crisp and fresh.

I never imagined 5 years ago (not that my mind was on anything other than the terrible events of the day) that I would actually be living in the city I was watching on TV. I never wanted to live in (or near) NYC. But, strangely enough, I find that I love it. Fate is funny that way.

I took a handful of pictures yesterday morning. Feel free to have a look if you wish. I am so glad I was there.

Space. Or lack thereof.

I knew coming down here that the primary obstacle would be the question of space.

I have always enjoyed having my own space. I like my alone time, and I like living alone. I never wanted roommates, and haven’t had any since I left Semple Street in South Oakland after I graduated from college.

So I am taking a fully furnished one-bedroom apartment and moving into an already furnished apartment with 3 other people. We first loaded all my things into the basement, and bringing up boxes I need one by one to unpack. I am constantly asking myself, “where can this fit?” and, in all honesty, “where do I fit?” I am trying to figure out where I fit within this family and culture that is much more insular than my own. With each item I cannot find space for, this rug and that picture frame, it feels like a piece of me that isn’t fitting in.

This is my doing, not anyone else’s. D and his family have opened their arms and their home to me, and I am grateful to them for it. But that is the thing, it is their home. When, if ever, will it feel like my home too? The problem is that I don’t know how long I am staying. A few months? I don’t really know. Things are so up in the air right now, it is hard to make concrete plans. Even if just a month or two, shouldn’t I still unpack and hang pictures?

Well, for now it is just one step, one box, at a time.

All Things Family

First, sorry for being MIA. I was almost washed down a drain pipe with all this record breaking rain (22 inches in May and June).

So, the weekend before last I went down to NY to meet Damir’s family. I know! It has only been two months, but there ya go. I was really nervous since they really don’t speak much English, and you all know about my Serbian. Da? I have to say in the end it went pretty well. I met the parents, and a cadre of other family members. But there are still many more left to meet down there; Damir is immersing me slowly into his familial culture. I have to say, thank god for the World Cup games that are taking place right now, we depended a lot on the international language of soccer. GOooooaAAlllLLLL!

I bought Croatian language CDs and intruction book this weekend and have already gotten through lessons I and II; a fun way to pass such endless rainy days. I practice my new funny sounding words on the phone with Damir and he laughs at my accent, but says its cute. Why couldn’t they speak French or Spanish in Montenegro? This slavic language is not easy. But I am looking forward to greeting Damir’s dad with a hearty, Dobar dan gospodin, kako ste? Jesam dobro, hvala. Croatian isn’t exactly the same as Montenegrin, which doesn’t have many language resources available, and it is easier to learn than Serbian which uses both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. It has been a long time since I really tried to get a new language under my belt, and the mental exercise feels very nice indeed.

I am heading back to see them this weekend and get to stay until Wednesday because I’ve extended the long 4th of July holiday. That should give me plenty of time to practice. How do you say ‘fireworks’ in Croatian?

In other news, a belated happy bday Twinner!

We threw E a rocking surprise party last Friday night. We got her good! Everyone loves a surprise party. Except people who don’t like surprises. Screw them. By the way, she isn’t really naked in the above photo, she was wearing a hot red strapless dress.