Friday, March 31, 2006


I heard the funniest thing at the gym last night, and to me -- a sports junkie, a dedicated listener of ESPN Radio all day at work, a lifetime subscriber of Sports Illustrated -- found this absolutely unbelievable.

I was talking to one of the deans about Barry Bonds, when a faculty member said, "what's a barry bond?"

I looked at her, "you don't know who Barry Bonds is?"

"Oh...he's a person? I thought it was some sort of IRA."

How to get through a meeting

I have a new way to pass the time in meetings. It looks like you're taking notes, you can still pay attention to what's going and play, you can play alone or with your neighbor.

Down the margin of your paper, write the alphabet (each letter to a new line). Then take a sentence or phrase from the agenda or hand-outs, and write that down the page next to the alphabet. Then with the two letters, think of a famous person with those initials.

Easy, right? Not as simple as you might think, but a great way to pass the time.

So, for example, in my meeting yesterday, I took a headline from a newsletter in front of me: "Smith Hands Off to Schermerhorn."

A S -- Ashley Simpson
B M -- Bobby Murcer
C I -- Chris Isaak
D T - Dylan Thomas
E H -- Ethan Hawke
F H -- Faith Hill
G A -- Greg Anderson
H N -- Helen Newman
I D -- Ira Davis
J S -- Jessica Simpson
K O -- Katie O'Hara
L F -- Larry Flynt
M F -- Mary Fran

After six meetings yesterday, this was a welcome change in my end-of-the-day meeting. :)

Who knew PB&J could have that effect?

I had a (an?) eureka moment this morning -- and it was while I was doing nothing special, just making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. I realized why I feel in a funk, why I sometimes feel like I don't belong, why I get that unmatched shoe feeling.

I'm not special. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way, I mean when I lived in Baltimore and I would come to New York for a visit, it was a moment, it was a big deal. I see that when my brothers or sister come to visit from Virginia, Alaska or California. It's exciting -- Reuben's coming home.

But now that I'm in Ithaca, now that I'm only an hour away, I'm here. It's no big deal. I'm just like any other member of the family, and can be taken for granted just as easily as the next person. I'm just any other daughter, sister, friend. And I knew it was bothering me -- I just couldn't put my finger on it. Until today, until this morning. I'm not special. I used to be. It used to be a big deal when I hopped in the car and drove 350 miles. Now 60 miles isn't a big deal.

I saw my friends in Rochester more when I lived in Baltimore -- because I made the effort to fit in a visit when I was in town. I've been in New York for almost two years (though that doesn't seem possible -- sometimes it feels too short, sometimes way too long) and I've only seen friends a few times.

I guess it was easier when there was that moment of immediacy, when there was a short window of opportunity. "Ellie's only going to be in town this weekend," versus "She's in Ithaca, we can see her any time." And I don't think those are conscious thoughts, conscious decisions, it's just human nature.

Everyone has their own life, their own routine, their own "thing," and I moved back here. And nothing really changed for them. They went on with their life, their routine, their "thing." And my life was suddenly new and different, and I guess I expected to fit into their routine. And it doesn't always happen that way.

What I do with this, I'm not sure. I guess I accept it. I don't see me moving again but that's never entirely out of the question. I accept it or I let it continue to bother me. And that wouldn't be any fun, would it?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I am in a leadership training program at work. We have all-day sessions about once a month, and each day deals with a different topic. Today we learned about interpersonal communication and the different ways we communicate with one another -- verbal, subverbal and nonverbal, as well as communciation styles.

I consider myself to be a fairly articulate person, a good story-teller, etc...but I learned a lot today. And one of the things that really stood out to me was the difference between intention and impact -- meaning that a person can say something and mean (or not mean) one thing, but it is interpreted differently and the impact can be negative, though that wasn't the intention.

I think this resonated with me because I've been thinking about my friend JM in Rochester. She is the one I've recently referred to as my "Hallmark friend," the kind you only communicate with at the holidays.

That wasn't an entirely accurate picture. JM and I have e-mailed over the course of the past few months, back and forth for a few rounds and then suddenly she'll stop. If it happened once, I wouldn't think anything of it -- but it's happened a couple of times. So I've actually gone back into my "sent" folder in my e-mail to see what I could have written to offend her. And in both cases, I've answered queries of hers about dating, my love life, etc.

An example:

She wrote: How about you? How are things on the dating front, etc.?

I answered her previous questions, and then to this one, responded: Dating is the same -- which is to say non-existent. I've pretty much given up. I just do my thing -- do my volunteer work, I've been going to the gym for 90 minutes after work every night, visit with family and friends. It is what it is. Once the weather is better -- that is to say more predictable -- we'll have to plan a visit. I haven't been to Rochester since the fall.

I wasn't saying it to elicit sympathy. I truly feel sometimes that to not be constantly looking, to not be constantly focused on it, is actually healthier. Everyone, JM included I'm sure, has told me many, many times...."when you least expect it..." or "when you stop looking...."

But by her lack of response, I wondered, should I not be expressing myself this way? Have I complained about it for so long that my friends are sick of hearing my dating woes? That when they ask, it's really the equivalent of "how are you?" No one really wants to hear anything other than "fine thanks."

I'm not sure. But it's been weighing on my mind, leaving me unsure of how to handle it with her, or even if I want to deal with it. If I do the latter, I'll just wait until something comes up, we'll chat causally and that will be that. And maybe that's the way our friendship will be from now on.

I could ask her about it, but confrontation -- of any kind -- has never been my strong suit.

Or, I could take something out of what I learned today, and believe that the impact of her non-response was not as she intended. She wasn't reacting to anything I had written, she just got busy and never responded.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Boy named B

"Am I missing something? Why are you attracted to B? He is so not your type."

And so goes not only the conversation I have in my head sometimes, but the conversation I have with a friend who knows B well. This particular version of the conversation came about because I was describing what I consider to be "my type."

The clean cut, former frat boy, goes to work in a suit. And that is so not B.

And yet, I'm attracted to him. Still. *Sigh*

And I know I'm not the only one. He could easily have a gaggle of girls at his feet -- and, in fact, probably does when he's playing a gig or out at a bar. My friend understands why she finds him attractive -- he's more her type. She is continually perplexed as to why I do.

It goes beyond his rock star image, beyond his flirtation and charm. And for me, even beyond this want and need to take care of him.

We had lunch last week, and this is what I got out of it, after much post-lunch analysis: there is a mutual sexual attraction between us (he said that); he is intimidated by me (not sure where this comes from); I would still sleep with him (I said this).

He said that as much of a bad-ass as he appears to be at work, he really is a good two-shoes on the inside, and he thinks the exact opposite is true of me. That I give off "good girl" at work, but I'm really a bad girl and that scares the hell out of him. Now certainly, I do have an inner bad girl, though it's not my dominant personality, so that puzzles me as to why he thinks I'm intimidating.

Who knows....all I do know is he has become a challenge, one I'm not sure I can win. And frankly, one I'm not sure I should (or should want to) win. We have cleared the air between us, we have a found a new basis for our relationship, and I think, we can openly flirt with each other and know where we're each coming from. In that sense, we won't go back to the weirdness, back to the unclear expectations of each other.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

That's what he thought all along

I got an email back from my friend in Rochester. She said she finally caught up with Will at work today and got a "play-by-play" of out date, that it sounded like fun, but that he just wanted to be friends.

Works for me.

The Letdown

I fretted all day Monday about what to do, what should the follow-up to the date be? I figured I wouldn't have to worry about it just yet -- he said he would call "later in the week."

I got home from the gym on Monday night to two messages in my voice mail -- one from my friend JRK in Baltimore and one from Will, giving me his itinerary for the next 24 hours so I could call him back. I wish I was flattered by him calling so quickly -- and if there was an ounce of me liking him, I would have been.

JRK gave me great advice, stressing that I needed to take care of this within the next day. "Don't lead him on -- but be truthful," was her ever-present wisdom from 350 miles away.

At work yesterday I played the conversation in my head, wishing I could just email him. I even called Buffalo Dave, who was amused by the situation and took great delight in teasing me. "He called you already? He's smitten."

"But what do I say?"

" could take the guy approach and just not call him back. But that's not the thing to do. Just tell him there was no chemistry."

After 90 minutes and six miles on the treadmill, 100 crunches and 80 inner and outer thigh squeezes, I headed home to make the phone call. And he wasn't there. So I had to leave a message.

Half an hour later my phone rang with a 585 area code on the caller ID. I contemplated letting it go to voice mail, I have to admit. But I grabbed it on the last ring. He asked how my day was, was anything happening with the media relations position I've applied for at work, and "ummm, did you want to do something this weekend?"

"I can't -- I'm going to the Billy Joel concert Saturday night." Lame excuse, I know. The concert will be all of three hours, but it was a good segue into the "I'm not that into you" part of the conversation.

I don't even remember exactly what I said or what he said. It was short and sweet and, like pulling off a band-aid, over in no time.

I had emailed my friend back yesterday afternoon, the one he works with. She had emailed me bright and early Monday morning to see how it went. I figured I couldn't put her off forever. I gave the "I"m so busy at work" line, said that yes Will and I did get together on Sunday, but I wasn't sure that I would see him again, thanks for thinking of your single friend, blah blah.

I'm interested in getting her response back.

And so goes the ups and downs of dating. On to the next...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Dollar and a Dream

About a month or so back, when the workers from the meat-packing plant in Nebraska won the powerball or lotto or whatever it was for $300 million, it brought up the conversation at work: what would you do if you won that much money?

A co-worker told me that she didn't have a clue. Really? I have it all planned out.

For the sake of this list, let's say that I'm getting $125 million after taxes.

* Pay off all credit cards and car -- and then buy a new car!
* Pay off all mortgages for my brothers and sisters, and in one case, niece
* Pay off all student loans or create college funds for my nieces, nephews and great-nephew
* Buy a house in Cooperstown for the summer
* Buy a house in Richmond for the winter
* Buy a condo in the south for my parents
* Create an endowment at the Baseball Hall of Fame, about $10 million over 10 years -- enough to have my name and picture on something significant -- and join the Board of Directors
* Create a budget so that I don't blow the whole wad before I'm 50
* Annual contributions to Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Susan G. Komen
* Do volunteer work
* Write

Of course you've to play to win....

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Up-date

I had my date yesterday. I drove to Rochester, when really, all I wanted to do was stay in my pj's. I took special care to blow my hair out and straighten it with the iron; I put on a little extra make-up, lipstick and gloss. I had washed and dried my good jeans the day before so they weren't stretched out and fit well.

My hair looked great. My make-up looked great. I looked damned good -- which I don't think about myself very much. But I did.

I got to Rochester a little early and went to K-Mart to buy some birthday cards and wrapping paper, and then headed over to Uno's, still about 10 minutes early. I went to the ladies room and when I came out, I saw him sitting there. I wasn't sure it was him, but he was about the right age and alone, by the hostess stand. I sat. And then he said, "Ellie?"

I turned and smiled. "Hi, Will?"

We got to our table and started talking right away. The conversation was easy -- he's a sports fan, and I have great stories about my former job. He used to work in politics, so it was interesting to hear about his experiences on the Kerry campaign. We ordered lunch -- is it sad to say that I was most excited about getting my favorite salad, not having an Uno's in Ithaca.

We talked easily about sports and politics, not venturing far from either. He paid, though I tried to pay for half, and then we opted to drive both cars across the street to the movies. "Firewall" (Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany) was starting in 15 minutes -- we decided on that. I paid for the movies.

After the movie, we walked out to the parking lot. I said I had a good time, thanked him again for lunch, and then he said, "may I see you again?" I said sure because I wasn't really sure what to say, and he said he'd call this week.

I'm guessing that you've already figured out from the very stale description that it wasn't a rousing success. It was fun in a very safe and boring way. There was no passion in his voice; I hoped getting him to talk about the campaigns and politics would bring that out. It didn't. He was very benign, there was really nothing spectacular about him. There wasn't anything dynamic about him.

He wasn't attractive, at all. And I hoped that his personality would dazzle me into looking beyond that. I've certainly been attracted to men who weren't conventionally handsome, but their personalities won me over (J of Baltimore is a perfect example). This didn't happen.

Do I expect too much? Maybe I do. I certainly wasn't expecting to fall in love; but I was expecting to make a connection of some kind. And I do expect some sort of excitement in someone's personality, something to grab my attention. I was very aware of giving him equal time -- asking him questions, giving him the "floor."

And then there's the thought that has actually been bothering me quite a bit since I left Rochester, while I drove home, while I watched TV and even as I tossed and turned worrying about work (that's another story) -- am I shallow? Was he really a nice guy, with a great personality -- but I couldn't see that because I couldn't see beyond his less-than-stellar looks? I honestly don't think so -- I believe that I went into it with an open mind and tried to extract the real him. And I think I got it.

Unfortunately, it's just not for me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Where there's a will....

So, look at Ellie....with a little old blind date on Sunday. And it all happened very suddenly -- the planner in me is freaking out a little.

A friend from Rochester, someone I used to work with, e-mailed me on Monday to ask if I was single, and would I be interested in meeting someone she works with. He's 31, does basically the same thing I do for a university, loves baseball (alas, he's a Red Sox fan), and Catholic. I wrote back -- sure I'd be interested, but did you tell him I'm a Yankees fan?

She did. She said she'd give him my email address. Yesterday he e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to get together for lunch or coffee one weekend. I offered up this weekend or next, a few back and forth, and we are meeting for lunch and a movie on Sunday in the very eastern suburb of Rochester (he lives north of Rochester, so technically this is about half-way, with a little more driving for me). And rather than going back and forth on logistics, I said maybe we could chat before the weekend to discuss the details.

He said he'd call last night about 7:15, giving me time to get home from the gym. At 7:14, just as I was sitting down to the Yankees Encore game from earlier in the day, my phone rang. A really nice, easy conversation -- about 20 minutes -- and we're meeting at Uno's at 12:30, and we'll decide on a movie when I get there.

No hopes getting up, whatsoever, sounds promising.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Gym Dandy

The gym on campus reopened last night. I was at work at 7:30 and felt no guilt, whatsoever, leaving at 4:15 so I could get two hours in. While I was changing my trainer came in and said, "you're taking my class today -- let's go."

I looked at her like she was on crack, until she said, "it's just you and Erica. I'll go easy on you."

The class was fun -- though even with simple steps and moves, I managed to look like a clutz. But I can laugh at myself. I've never been accused of being graceful. What I didn't like, however, was the full-wall mirror in front of me. There was no escaping myself. And beyond watching me mess up steps now and then, I really hated seeing myself.

For some reason, when I'm in work clothes, when I'm "polished," I can see the weight loss. I can see the difference in me. In a t-shirt and sweat pants, I looked like a cow. And I was confronted with that for 50 minutes.

I'm not sure how to gain a good self-image, good body image. Maybe its something that needs to be nurtured all through life, maybe its something that is just inherent. And without making light of serious illnesses or pretending to be able to get into the mind of an anorexic or bulemic -- I can kind of understand how they can look in the mirror and see something that is not reality, see something different from the rest of the world.

*'s a never-ending battle, and one that I'm not giving up on. I'm just not sure how to win it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Good-bye, good luck

Life is about to get very stressful. My colleague's last day at work is tomorrow. Beginning Monday, I will be doing the work of two people.

So on top of the fact that one of my dearest friends at work is leaving, I'm about to be completely over-whelmed every hour of the day.

And such is the life in higher ed, that the interview/hiring process will easily take four to six months. I shit you not. Why it takes this long is a mystery to me. The position was posted on-line on February 10th. Last I heard, about two weeks ago, we had gotten in over 30 resumes. But that, apparently, is not good enough. The position has to be posted for a certain length of time before they can start interviewing and there needs to be a certain amount of applications, diversity, etc.

We've started an informal pool in the office as to when the replacement starts. I'm being optimistic -- I said May 30th. Someone who has worked at the college a whole longer than me has guessed August 10th.

God help me if that's the case.


I haven't been to the gym this week, because it's spring break so the wellness center that I go to is closed. The regular fitness center had shitty hours -- 11am to 2pm. Yea, that's helpful.

I have managed to work out at home, doing different videos that I own. And yesterday, because I got out of my seminar early, I went for a three-mile walk. And then I felt it in my knee this morning. So I took tonight off.

JT, how's your working out going? I haven't heard lately. I've managed to coast the wheels of my car up, almost to the top of the speed bump (remember my metaphor for geeting past this plateau) and over the other side. One more pound to pre-holiday weight.

I'll be heading down to Baltimore in May -- two months from this past weekend in fact. I'd like to be down 10 more pounds. I'd like to look hot, actually. I'll be seeing my former.....not sure what to call him, so I guess just my "former" works.

I've been thinking about him a lot lately. As I struggle with being alone, from time to time, and miss being with him. And while he wasn't exactly my boyfriend, he had a way of making me feel wanted and needed -- even if it was temporary. But it was in such a way that Chris doesn't make me feel.

With Chris, this time around, there is no emotional connection. And while I don't want it with Chris, I do miss having it.

Such is the life of the single girl, I guess -- searching for that connection.

The question is....when I finally find it, will I have to change the name of my column? Or will I just be in search of something else?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Lessons of a Mother

I realized this weekend that I need to take it easy on my mom. True, she has done things in the past few weeks (months, years?) to annoy me. But I've let myself get too upset about it. I've vented over-dramatically, perhaps. To make good copy? Maybe.

There is a delicate balance -- a struggle of power -- between mother and daughter. No matter the age. The mother is always the mother. Somewhere along the way, the daughter becomes a woman first, an adult -- and a daughter second. I think that is the root of the struggle. Who knows best? Who knows more? Who can yell louder?

I recognize, in the case of me and my mother, that sometimes I can yell louder only because she lets me. Because she backs down -- not because she gives up -- but because she is my mother, and more times than not, mothers let you win. You learn the lesson, not because they tell you, but because it finally hits you. It finally sinks in.

And so it was this weekend, when my mother called me Friday to tell me that she and my dad would not be coming to Ithaca for dinner on Saturday. The cold she had been fighting for a week had turned into an upper resperatory infection and pneumonia. I asked if she had food in the house for the weekend, what medicine she was on, etc. And then, because I had been so worried about my dad the past few weeks, I said, "is he sick, too?"

She said no. I should have left it at that. But my "filter" wasn't working, and I said, slightly snippier than I meant, "well don't get him sick."

We hung up with the usual love you's and good-bye's. But I heard it in her voice. Nothing as strong as "hurt," nothing as strong as "stung," but definitely something. I should have called her right back and apologized for my tone. But I didn't.

That night, I slept until about 3am, when I woke up from a horrible dream. My sister, her husband (the ones I don't get along with) and my father all showed up at my door to tell me that my mom had died. It was so realistic and so gut-wrenching, that I couldn't shake the feeling or the thoughts for more than an hour. If my mom hadn't been sick, I would have called her in the middle of the night -- just to make sure that she was okay. I fought the tears -- not only for the horrible thought that my mother, could in fact, be dead, but also for the guilt of the last words I spoke to her on the phone the night before.

Finally about 4:30, I fell back into a fitful sleep, but a sleep nonetheless. When I woke up about 9, I called my mom immediately. To check on her, in more ways than one. She of course was alive. And feeling better with the stronger antibiotics working.

I scolded her, in a caring way, for trying to make breakfast for her and my dad. "He can do it. He used to get up every Saturday morning and make himself an egg before going to work." I also told her to order pizza for dinner, rather than try to cook. And when I talked to her later in the day and she told me she had cooked, I asked what happened to the pizza. "Your father didn't want pizza."

"Well, then, he should have cooked something."

The balance was back -- the balance of worrying about my parents, and making sure that they were equally taking care of each other. It took a mother's lesson for me to realize consciously that I worry about both of them -- but sometimes favor one over the other unfairly.

And while this was a lesson not exactly given to me by my mother, it was indirectly -- because she raised me to have compassion, to have empathy and sympathy -- and to know when I've hurt someone. And to make it right.

Friday, March 03, 2006

It's all about symantics and rationalizations

The Rules

1. No meat on Ash Wednesday or any Friday during Lent. Fish is okay.
2. Give up something during Lent.

My Rules

1. I don't do seafood, and since poultry and seafood are so similar in color, turkey or chicken is okay if I absolutely have to. Red meat is a big no-no.
2. I gave up candy -- all candy. But not necessarily all chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie? Fine. Chocolate chips right out of the bag? Not fine.

See the distinction.

Trust me, I'm going to hell for much worse than eating a turkey sandwich on Wednesday, but in my own head, I must rationalize it.

It seemed the thing to do...meow, meow

You Have a Phlegmatic Temperament

Mild mannered and laid back, you take life at a slow pace.
You are very consistent - both in emotions and actions.
You tend to absorb set backs easily. You are cool and collected.

It is difficult to offend you. You can remain composed and unemotional.
You are a great friend and lover. You don't demand much of others.
While you are quiet, you have a subtle wit that your friends know well.

At your worst, you are lazy and unwilling to work at anything.
You often get stuck in a rut, without aspirations or dreams.
You can get too dependent on others, setting yourself up for abandonment.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


B and I will be having lunch together two weeks from today. I kind of let it drop from our IM conversation the other day, but he brought it up again when I saw him. So I figured he really wanted to make sure things were okay between us.

Of course, when he walked into my office and gave me a lingering hug, he said he was tired. I said, "I could go for a nap right about now."

And he, apparently not learning from his lack of "cautionary filters on his behavior," said, "we should take a nap together." (tighter hug)

Oh B...* do make it hard to not want to dote on you.