Monday, December 28, 2009
2004 "Deceptacon" by Le Tigre
2005 "It's 5!" by Architecture in Helsinki and "In the Beginning" by K'naan
2006 "You! Me! Dancing!" by Los Campesinos and "Collection of Stamps" by I'm From Barcelona
2007 "Grip Like a Vice" by Go! Team and "Firecracker" by Voxtrot
2008 "Good Times" by Brazilian Girls and "Rearranger" by Mates of State
2009 "Psychic City" by Yacht and "Crown on the Ground" by Sleigh Bells
Note: The "Psychic City" link was filmed in our apartment. This was my roommate's film project for grad school. She had to make a video about doing the dishes. It's a fine, fine piece of work.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
- Be a better mother.
- Quit eating my pet goldfish. Correction, quit buying pet goldfish.
- Quit doing things for drugs.
- Kiss a boy for the first time. Well, we'd have to be married first.
- Insure my troll doll collection.
- Start a troll doll collection.
- Addendum to number 3. Quit doing things for drugs unless it's to build my troll doll collection.
- Complete enough community service hours to get my parole lifted.
- Get my arson charges dropped to just a parole sentence.
- Quit crashing state dinners at the White House.
Friday, November 27, 2009
- "That's 'Leibowitz' with a 'B'." (contributed by Christy Purington)
- "Didn't we hook up on the jitney?" (contributed by Barrett Sheridan)
- "Can I get you a shot of Jager?" (contributed by Barrett Sheridan)
- "You're a beautiful shade of orange tonight." (contributed by Barrett Sheridan)
- "I've got an extra ticket to see the Boss at the Garden on Monday." (contributed by Barrett Sheridan)
- "Studies show you can actually get tennis elbow from too much fist pumping to Bon Jovi."
- "Who am i kidding. i don't read studies."
- "Do you work at a hedge fund or a multinational conglomerate that services hedge funds?"
- "Which sorority tshirt should i wear to the gym?"
- "What company did you use to install the fake wall in your apt in your nondescript building above a Chase atm bank?"
- "So do you watch your college football games at Tonic or the Hill?"
- "Nice North Face jacket."
- "I was the first person to chant 'so good, so good' in 'Sweet Caroline'."
Friday, November 20, 2009
Season’s greetings, Happy Hanukkah. Retailers seem to carry an abundance of holiday cards, but alas, I couldn’t quite find the appropriate sentiment for my client, so I resorted to making my own.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The Water Cooler, huh? To the new hires, I still recall when I first received the Water Cooler. As a recent college grad eager to usher in a new era of freedom from material misstatement to the wild world of financial reporting, I pretended to read the OneVoice and Technically Speaking, but let’s face it, I didn’t get as riled up about consolidating Variable Interest Entities as my senior did.
As a new hire, the Water Cooler was something I could really get into. Pictures, restaurant recommendations, wedding announcements. Over the years, I have come to understand and appreciate the other Deloitte email newsletters and have even gotten excited about updates to the New Audit Methodology.
Over the years, I have also learned what truly makes a great newsletter here at Deloitte.
- It helps if you can get a mascot, a face and voice to the newsletter, kinda like Oprah is to O magazine. AERS Weekly has Tommasino; One Voice boasts Jeff Kottkamp as its cover model; we have Ed; and Barry Salzberg is always sending out his own newsletters.
- Colors are crucial. It’s Deloitte; the tasteful use of a palette of colors is encouraged, as long as the only colors used are blue and bright green.
- Links, tons of links are always encouraged. They make your publication look researched and important. That’s why each month, when we compile the Water Cooler, we insert at least 15 fake links. Just bold a few words and people will think there are tons of data and additional information for whatever you just sent.
I am a goal-setter, and more importantly, a goal-attainer. Like my other colleagues, my counselor and I got together and outlined some professional goals for the next year.
My counselor recommended these goals.
- 100% utilization
- Get involved in a BRG
- Pass my CPA exam
- Learn the new audit approach
I agreed to these goals.
- 100% utilization
- Get involved in a BRG
- Get a CPA certification
- Learn the new audit approach
- Lobby to make time spent polishing Where’s Waldo figurines a work-related activity
- Start a BRG focusing on speed-eating Nacho Cheese Doritos with chopsticks
- Did you know you can be certified by the Composite Panel Association (CPA), which represents the composite panel and decorative surfacing industries? (http://www.pbmdf.com/)
- Have you seen the new audit approach? It caps selections at 75. Of course, I am going to learn this.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Kenya performed its once-a-decade census on August 25th, 2009. They perform it all within a one to two day period and encourage everyone to stay home to ensure they are counted. We were taking the overnight bus from Mombasa back to Nairobi, when around midnight a flood of twenty-something-year-olds boarded the bus and began polling the passengers for the census.
Yes, we were included in the Kenyan 2009 Census! Brent Vernon, Katie Seikel, and Tara Hagan are registered as Drent (no last name), Kate Serkel, and Tara Hagan, respectively. There were some language barriers that resulted in differences and Drent being registered as a female. We were pretty excited.
- I have the greatest friends ever. I posted the pictures here - http://www.facebook.com/
- Surprisingly, they didn't really sell postcards in Kenya, so I will make some and send them out. Forward me your address if you want one.
- If you're in New York, I am having a kickball game for my birthday on Saturday, August 29th at the East River Park on East 6th and FDR Drive from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. There is some concern over the anticipated inclement weather, but seriously? It's kickball. I think we'll be fine. Also, I already paid for the park permits and filled out the paperwork, so I am still going.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The other day, as I was settling down on the sofa about to dig in to my hearty home-cooked dinner of microwavable oatmeal from Trader Joe’s, I noticed this black square with a silver frame across the room from me. My television seemed so foreign at the time. As I was staring at it, I started to wonder how long it’d been since I’d turned it on – weeks, months? I honestly could not recall the last time I’d watched the television. This troubled me.
I had to figure out what happened to my affinity for the tele, and then I realized the reason I don’t watch the television anymore is because there are no accounting-related programs. For real. Who wants to watch Dancing with the Stars or 30 Rock? Dancing, comedy? Sounds lame, which is why I have created an idea for a new accounting-related program.
The obvious choice is Real World. “This is the true story... of seven strangers... picked to live in a house...work together and have their lives taped... to find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real...The Real World.” Um, pretty sure this is every day in the audit room. We just need cameras and confession rooms.
I am sure you already some interesting characters on your team. The senior who carries her full-size rabbit with her to client meetings and has the furry creature conduct SOX interviews. The tourettes-afflicted second year with multiple personality disorder, who sometimes fills out SAS documents signing off as Jimi Hendrix and sometimes as Samuel L. Jackson. The senior with joint problems of a senior citizen, who makes your massage his ankles and crack his knuckles and soak his feet.
No, these are just people on my team?
Friday, July 24, 2009
Submitted to Company Newsletter in August 2009
So my new hobby is updating Wikipedia pages. Unfortunately all the topics I find fascinating are either not Wiki material or already covered.
- How to live in a West Village apartment with six foot ceilings with a shower in the kitchen and a ladder to get to your catacomb-like bed space – a topic I know well but not Wiki material.
- The pilot episode of 30 Rock – already covered.
- Islamic calligraphy certificates, Diocletianic Persecution, Certified Public Accountants – respectively, fascinating and covered, fascinating and covered, no clue what this is but apparently covered.
So what topics are left? What topics are truly riveting but obscure enough to still be unclaimed in the Wiki-sphere? Accounting pronouncements.
Apparently, if Wikipedia were a land-run, with settlers in their Conestoga wagons scrambling about the virtual plots of potential topics and laying stake to their choices of prime real estate, topics like Lance Armstrong would be like verdant land next to the sparkling, fish-bearing river. And yet, accounting pronouncements would be the equivalent of the dried up, infertile clay plot with annoying neighbors, which is why I was able to secure some forsaken Wiki space for my latest contribution. Ah yes, I wrote this Wiki page – SFAS 157. So if you’d like to add citations, pictures, discussion, etc, we could really fix her up and have a “homestead” we could really be proud of. Figuratively speaking, in keeping with the settler theme.
Other tidbits I learned while writing this article.
- Gopinath Muthukad founded the first magic academy of Asia in Thiruvananthapuram, present-day Trivandrum and the capital of the Indian state Kerala.
- The design of the Conestoga wagon, with its boat-like shape and sturdy frame, explains why I was able to successfully ford the river in the game Oregon Trail numerous times.
- Oregon Trail was actually a television series in the late 70’s; it was cancelled after six episodes.
- Apparently there is a Tasmanian politician named Lance Armstrong. I’d probably vote for him just for the name.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Submitted to Company Newsletter in July 2009
I was a member of the Deloitte Intern Class of 2004. It was glorious. I recall lugging my Toshiba through the maze of subways, busses, and path trains.
- A fellow intern and I decided to see how long Manhattan was one day, so we took the subway to 215th street and walked to South Ferry.
- I made a lot of binders that summer, and I recall filling out “gray ropes“, which were just huge envelopes to ship binders back to the office to be archived. All interns and employees, be glad you don’t have to do those anymore.
- For our intern community service day, we painted park benches in the Harlem area of Central Park. I recall having to paint around people sleeping on the benches.
- I was assigned for two days at an international bank near Herald Square to reconcile the financial statements for a company using Polish GAAP to what they would be in US GAAP.
- I recall filling out paper timesheets and faxing them in. Maybe that was just for interns.
- One afternoon, my senior at the engagement was explaining something to me. I don’t recall what it was because I fell asleep right in front of her. I ran into her at a happy hour a year ago, and she brought it up.
- We also went to a Yankees game one day. As I walked in, someone handed me a t-shirt. My fellow interns were curious why only I received one. Turns out, it was Free T-Shirt Day for kids under 13.
- I was once assigned to an engagement in Brooklyn. Everyone told me it was a bad part of town. I looked it up when I moved back to the city to start working full-time. Turns out, the engagement was in now-uber-gentrified Williamsburg. I should have been buying up properties in B-burg when I was out there auditing.
- One of my clients was in Jersey City. My parents were worried that I was travelling between states for work. It just sounded so far away.
- Honestly, I still consider some of my fellow interns among my closest friends, so I encourage all the 2009 interns to take savor the summer and make the most of your internship experience by learning as much as possible on the engagements and keeping in touch with your fellow interns and teammates. For those who were interns at Deloitte, why not send an email or call up someone from your summer past.
Monday, June 8, 2009
So while waiting for jury duty, take three, to commence, I have started composing the below list of party predictions for Saturday:
1. You will inevitably end up playing that one Justin Timberlake song, whose name escapes me right now, reconnect with your inner Michael Jackson and create a new dance move the likes of which the world has never seen. A couple people will go blind from the sheer brilliance of it. Unfortunately, it will be a one-time freak occurrence, and you'll spend the rest of your life unsuccessfully trying to recreate the magic of that one night. The two bystanders rendered blind will always resent the fact they lost their sense of sight in vain. That's two less facebook friends.
2. Bobby will perfect the BGE, its presence will spread to the nearby UN building. Delegates still at work or settling down for a good night's sleep in the neighborhood, will sense the importance in the night, feel drawn like magnets to the 7th floor of 245 East 40th and catch the tail end of Bobby's sweet moves as the line "Call on Me" reverberates in the air. Enraged at the possibility of losing a national treasure like Bobby, strings will be pulled, red tape will be removed and Bobby will be allowed, nay, required to stay in the U.S. Unfortunately, he will not be able to stay in New York, as he will be touring the U.S. as the opening act for the Jonas Brothers for the next five years, where he will develop a coke addiction and never be the same. Bittersweet.
3. Christy, always prepared for a party, will undoubtedly arrive complete with her own deck of cards, shot glasses, roofies, and bong accoutrements. Someone (probably I) will switch her deck of cards with a deck of three's. Coincidentally, we will be playing the game "draw a three, eat roofie." I, however, switched the bag o'roofies with a medley of human growth hormone, steroids, and synthetic testosterone. We will all worry when Christy disappears for a few months, but all cheer her on when she reemerges as the U.S. contender in shotput in the Beijing '08 Olympics. The back hair and mustache will lead to speculation, drug tests will ensue, but she will keep her gold medal, because I, being a considerate friend, paid a premium for untraceable drugs.
4. Alisa, after snorting a line of cupcake frosting, will, in a moment of scientific breakthrough, combine her love of food with her fancy pants edumacation and create a new diet founded solely on the consumption of cupcakes and watching Gossip Girls. This new diet revolution will sweep the country and replace all other traditional weight loss plans. Years later, the diet will be blamed for the sharp increase in adult diabetes in the U.S. Oh wait, that's already happened, but people always feel more comfortable when they have a scapegoat. So that's nice.
5. Rod, in a moment of weakness, will eat his plant he has been nursing for the past few months. So upset with this, he will embark on a three-month soul-searching. He will hitchhike his way down to South America where he will befriend this new Amazonian tribe everyone is so crazy about. He will learn their ways and they will eventually induct him into their isolated community. A year later, he will realize the tribe never existed. He was just suffering the prolonged side effects of ingesting his mysterious plant.
6. Dave, after carefully assembling his new wardrobe, now feels a deep attachment to this holder of garments and other unknown wonders. The party will grow louder, and Dave will seek solace in this wardrobe only to discover the brightly decorated back board is actually a portal to an unknown magical kingdom called Narnia. He will free the Narnians from the Ice Witch and rule the land as a just, and fair king. However, we won't notice his absence because that's how magic wardrobes work.
7. Lauren will not be there. Lame.
Well, it's 11:28, and I have been sitting all morning. I am supposed to meet back at the courtroom at noon, where we will take attendance and then take a two-hour lunch. Me bored.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I have a lot of things in life. I have the full collection of “Now that’s what I call Music” compilation series. I have an extensive closet of Victorian era costumes for my pet rabbit, affectionately named Jane Austen Thumper. I have unedited footage for a Public Access television show I am piloting entitled “Reconcile Yo Mama,” which combines my three loves in life – auditing, break dancing, and yo mama jokes.*
*Basically, you have to use FASB excerpts to insult people’s moms while break dancing. I.e. Yo mama’s so dumb, she failed sale on FAS 140, and we had to consolidate her. Yo mama’s so big, we tried to hedge her exposure. Yo mama’s so dumb, she heard about fx translation and thought it was a new language she could learn from Rosetta Stone.
Tax season came and went, and some of us may be expecting a refund. Now you’re sitting around in a quandary. How can to spend it? Below are a few suggestions.
1. TurboTax asked me if I wanted to apply my refund to pay income taxes for the current year. Yeah right.
2. Invest it. They say you should make your money work for you. That’s why I pour my spare cash into Beanie Babies. Their values will skyrocket, especially when Pinky the Panda becomes the new universal currency.
3. Buy bumper stickers declaring “Not all CPAs do taxes, so quit asking me for advice.”
4. Give up and enroll in some tax courses, so then you can actually give some tax advice.
5. Purchase the new limited edition Water Cooler Archives – Uncut and Uncensored. I will be selling the copies, er um, publications on the corner of Essex and Delancey for $20.
6. Headshots. The world of public accounting needs more glamour. Why hand out business cards at walkthroughs, when you can be handing out an 8x10 black and white of your face? It’s the only way to get leading roles.
7. Give it to the next Junior Achievement bowling email asking for donations.
8. Hire a high schooler to submit your timesheets for you each Friday.
9. Treat yourself.
10. More useful suggestions on how to spend your tax refund.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I have been in California for the past week visiting my best friend Brent.
We spent a couple nights in San Pedro staying with Howie, a friend who lived in a Norwegian church. Fortunately, I know one phrase in Norwegian; it means "I love Norway." Thanks, Andreas and Ingvld.
Howie hosted a potluck for the Gay Christian Network of Los Angeles. Brent and I made Sangria for the event, only to discover it was a dry event. The event was predominantly white, gay males, so I guess I was a minority of a minority of a minority. I was also the hottest girl there, aka, the only girl there. It was fun.
Don't Doubt Me: Sometimes I actually follow through on plans
Some of you may know I am running a half-marathon at the end of April with roommates and friends. Some of you may know that I have not tried this running thing. Don't doubt me. I have been running for two to three hours a day for five of the past seven days.
What I have seen on my runs:
1. Homeless people running with me with their backpacks. Brent pointed out I always wear the same clothes when I run, so they probably think I am homeless too.
2. Where Baywatch was shot.
3. A lot of beach. Yeah, they can be boring. I mainly black out on the runs.
Coming Attractions: What I am most looking forward to in the rest of my trip in chronological order
1. Accounting TA reunion with Eva Weerts
2. Brugges hostel mate from 2006 reunion with Rachel Rudwall
3. Santa Monica Public Library Scrabble and Bridge club on Mondays at 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Submitted in company newsletter
Top Ten Pick-up Lines
- Your name is my Outlook password. I just add another number every ninety days when it makes me change it. I'm up to 27.
- I knew you were the one when I saw your profile on D Street.
- Your tickmarks are informative yet concise.
- What’s your favorite footnote?
- Your Schedulink profile is my start up page.
- Maybe I could take you out for a nice dinner sometime… as long as it doesn’t exceed $12 combined and I have worked the requisite 12 hour day.
- I noticed you don’t get out much, and it’s probably because you’re working so much, but I am going to pretend it’s because you’re waiting for me to show you around town.
- Is your cell phone number 1-800 DELOITTE because you are just so knowledgeable.
- You could be the sixth assertion. Existence, Completeness, Valuation, Presentation, Rights & Obligations, and Perfection.
- If you were a section of the MD&A, you’d be Value at Risk, emphasis on the Value.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Let’s talk about something real. Withdrawal. It happens every year after busy season. The email floods slow down, the alarm clock goes off a little later, you actually see friends and family after work. It’s awkward, right? Before long your fingers start itching, you start checking your email late at night hoping someone sent you a request, and you ask your roommate to create some fictitious spreadsheets for you to audit.
It’s a condition known in the medical community as Busy Season Withdrawal (BSW or BS-dubs), which afflicts up to .04% of left handed accountants who live along the Topic of Cancer. Symptoms include a desire to pass around a menu and ask people for their take-out requests and a tendency call and confirm if people really did send you the fax they just sent you.
After suffering for maybe 5 minutes last year, I wrote a book called Letting Love Go: How to Deal with the End of Busy Season. In it, I outline various ways to deal with the disorder. Below are some key suggestions.
- Mock audit. Remember when you had moot court in high school where you argued your stances on the juvenile justice system? Same thing. Get some members of your engagement team together and relive your glory days.
- Carry a dummy 10-key. I had my first year cut off a square from her jacket and outline in white-out the keys of my 10-key. When I am out and start to miss busy season, I pull the rolled up dummy calculator out of my pocket and place it on the bar or restaurant table or subway seat next to me and start entering the data. It’s just a release to keep the fingers nimble during the off-season.
- Consider switching hemispheres. I am not sure how this works, but I have a theory. Ms. Mathison taught me seasons and how the crazy world works. In her third grade class, I learned when it’s summer here, it’s winter in Zimbabwe. When it’s winter here, it’s summer in Tierra del Fuego. Assuming this holds constant, if it’s not busy season here, would it be busy season in Zimbabwe? Consider me applying for the transfer.
It’s a tough world out there, especially after busy season ends. Please let me know if you have further questions about BSW or if you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book Letting Love Go. I might be able to scrounge up a couple Xeroxed copies in my cousin’s car.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Mama Mexico Gift Certificate
Do you like your Mom? Do you like Mexicans? Do you wish your Mom was Mexican? If so, you’ll find yourself supremely interested in this $100 gift certificate to New York’s finest restaurant - Mama Mexico with locations in Uptown, Midtown and New Jersey.**
The legendary Huevos Rancheros are known to reconfigure your computer to DOS, bead your nose hair, and make your guinea pig live 35% longer. Mama Mexico’s Mama Pancakes, topped with banana, strawberry and maple syrup – in Mexican, it’s called platano, fresa, y jarabe de arce – will give you a sense of warmth and security comparable to a Snuggie®.
Link to menu - http://www.mamamexico.com/
Order now and I will throw in a couple mechanical pencils and post-its to sweeten up the deal since I am writing this from work. Right now the gift certificate (face value of $100) is going for $200. Mention this ad and receive [50% + (π/100)] off (53.14%).
Alright. Here’s the deal. I won this in a raffle. I’d use the gift certificate, but the thing is, my computer runs on 86-DOS (the disk operating system’s precursor), my nose hair is dreaded not beaded and my guinea pig is a tester for resveratrol and will probably already outlive me. Also, Mama (me not the restaurant) needs to move inventory so I will have some cash to purchase the Love Guru on DVD. Make it happen.
** Check out all three locations in the Tri-State area. Order within the next 15 minutes, and receive an excel spreadsheet to allow you to budget out your meals to ensure you have ample funds to enjoy all three luxurious locations.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
This was for an article for the company newsletter.
I have received quite the number of review notes in my day. Some are harsh , deservedly so, some are more just suggestions. Either way, below are a few of my more notable comments received.
- Sometimes I wish you were good at your job. That’s not really a question, so I went ahead and closed the review note for you.
- I didn’t really review this workpaper seeing as how we WAU-ed it a couple months ago.
- Interesting. I have actually never seen the adjective “sexy” used in the 1540: Understand the Computer Processing Environment document, but somehow, you really make it work.
- I must admit I have never seen tickmarks written in the font Wing Dings, but I guess when the client only speaks Klingon, it’s sometimes hard to put in writing.
- I guess it’s easier to archive when you never did it in the first place.
- Next time you do an analytic, you should use the financials from the company you’re auditing. You’ll notice it’ll be easier to compare the year-over-year change.
- If you’re going to outsource your inventory count memo to mid 90’s R&B sensation Salt-n-Pepa, at least have them sign off as Cheryl James, Deidra Roper, and Sandra Denton, not just SNP.
- The trick about referring to manual workpapers is that you have to actually have manual workpapers.
- I must have told you a thousand times, but if you’re going to keep volunteering for Junior Achievement, you have to quit teaching Ms. Wilcox’s third grade class how to perform CMA sample selections. I can always tell; they aren’t too keen on the decimals.
- Even if you do make the client dress up as Confederate general and reenact the surrender at Appomattox, you still can’t just say “Per discussion with Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865.”
This was for an article in the Company Newsletter.
I just watched the Oscars. I’d like to be famous. I think I’d look lovely in a vintage Oscar de la Renta. Have you heard me in a SOX walkthrough? I could easily bring home a Best Supporting Actress.
As I Google famous movie quotes this late Sunday evening, I reminisce over some of my career-defining quotes. While dressing as Braveheart’s William Wallace brought a sense of dignity and gravity to the meeting, my belting out “Freedom” mid-walkthrough proved more uncomfortable for the client than I had anticipated. And while, everyone loved my “Life is like a box of chocolates” quote at the weekly status meeting, they seemed rather grossed out when I arrived the next week with Darryl Hanna mermaid garb. Of course Splash was never critically acclaimed; I just wanted an excuse to for not washing my hair for a week and reeking of seaweed.
And so here I sit. Pondering – how can I reach the red carpet? How can I become famous? A couple initiatives I am working on:
I added TMZ to the speed dial at work. Whenever, I do something noteworthy, I have my first year report it to TMZ. “I just spotted Tara Hagan at 49th and Park on the 11th floor creating leadsheets.” “It looks like Tara Hagan was released from rehab, and the first thing she went back to was substantive analytical procedures. It looks like a relapse.” “She just shaved her head.”
I start crazy dating rumors about myself and send them into the tabloids – Photoshop concoctions of me at my desk with Robert Downey Jr. hanging off my arm, me copying bank statements while Hugh Jackman lovingly admires my ability to collate, me reading the file check report over brunch at Per Se with Perfect Strangers’ Bronson Pinchot. It sounds far-fetched now, but when you’re reading it on Perez next month, you’ll be upset you didn’t think of it first.
I know these two tricks might not get me anywhere, but if you Google famous accountants, you’ll discover John Grisham and Kenny G. I figure, this column counts for writing; I just need to take up the sax, and I should be set on becoming the most famous accountant in the world. Watch yourselves, paparazzi. Consider my workpaper sign-offs autographs.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
It's been a while since I've sent an email update, but if you received an email from the India travels, that's probably how you ended up on this email list. Also, I took off all the work email addresses.
I have a two-part vacation in progress – a wedding in Vegas followed by a two-week stint in Oklahoma for my little brother's graduation. It is presently 3:26 a.m. in Las Vegas as I wait at the airport for my 6:00 a.m. flight. It turns out we don't have a hotel room for tonight, so I checked out of the hotel at 11:00 a.m. and have since been wandering the Strip like a penniless vagabond, or a creepy old man who just gambled away his Social Security, whichever sounds hotter.
Top Three Vegas Memories
3. The man next to me on the flight to Vegas gave my other neighbor investment advice. Basically, Seat 14D suggested Seat 14F dump out his 401(K) and put it all in a currency, specifically Spanish currency. This brilliant idea is made difficult by this crazy new replacement currency called the Euro. Dear 14F, while making the most of your retirement funds, perhaps you should also consider typewriter futures and butter churning apparatus. They're going to be huge.
2. Tonight while wandering around for hours and hours on end, I made my way through the MGM Grand. I saw the sign for the Grand Garden Arena. I like Gardens. However, it was more of an Arena. A closed Arena. A closed Arena next to the auditorium for the Country Music Awards. Fortunately, the Awards program ended as I was turning around to walk back to the Casino. I was honored with the privilege of marching in this parade of bolo ties, big hair, and cowboy hats through the MGM Grand. I felt underdressed.
1. For the bachelorette party for the wedding, we went to an amateur male revue of sorts, titled American Storm. My friend Jessica was selected from the crowd to come on stage. Turns out, Jessica, fellow sorority member and former OU pom squad member, lost what ended up being a lap dance competition to a girl in braces.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
I decided somewhat last minute to surprise the family and just show up for the holidays. As I walked past the dining room window and my mother Bonnie looked up from decorating her sugar cookies, I received exactly the warm, evocative response I’d anticipated, “Oh sh*t.” Thanks, Bonnie.
The flight to the Sooner State proved informative. After cringing from the man who threatened “Woman, you better shut your mouth before I womp you” to his wife, I settled into my seat next to an older gentleman from southern Oklahoma. He enlightened me to the below:
Bush is going to pardon everyone he can and then resign. After which, Cheney will step up and pardon all his buddies and then resign. Then Condi will become the first black president – not Obama.
Interestingly, Condi and W are having an affair, and Laura will leave her husband after Obama is installed.
When it all proves true, I want you all to know you heard it from Seat 8B first.
I spent Christmas Day at the VFW. The buffet consisted of monochromatic vats of starch – stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes. My parents and grandparents grew very uncomfortable while at the dinner when my sister mentioned Obama. Apparently, he’s not too popular in the northeastern Oklahoma VF-Dub.
Zach, a recent graduate of Harrah High School, informed me of his contributions to his community. Remember when we were in high school and someone would show a video about STDs and safe sex and answer any questions? Yep, that’s now my brother. He tours the local high schools teaching kids how to use condoms and explaining what STDs are.
Caleb gave me a copy of his most recent yearbook photo. Should you ever get your hands on a Panther yearbook, you can easily spot by brother, as he is the only member of the junior class with an afro and fully grown mustache.
I have been on jury duty since Thursday, June 13th.
Schedule so far for Monday, June 16, 2008
9:30 a.m. – Show up on time. It’s not like they’re taking attendance and it’s not like it’s starting on time, but if your one objective for the day is to sit around and wait, you feel completely worthless if you can’t even show up for it on time.
9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – Sit on a bench in the hallway until told to take a coffee break until 12:00 p.m.
10:30 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. – Continue sitting on same bench in hallway setting record for viewing the most Facebook wedding albums in one sitting.
12:00 p.m. – Told to take a lunch break until 2:15 p.m.
12:00 p.m. to 12:05 p.m. – Exchange rolling of eyes and snide remarks with fellow commiserates
12:05 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. – Aimlessly wander nearby Chinatown and then return to write this email
Conclusion: Add in two hours of watching Melrose Place reruns and an hour of EBay bidding for Hannah Montana collectibles and you have my daily routine for any other day of the week.
Advice if you should ever be summoned
Well, the courthouse is located near Chinatown. So bring your list of all those errands you always needed to run in Chinatown – Rolexx watches, Fende purses, ReyBan sunglasses, the new Coldpage cd, etc.
Don’t bring a gun. Apparently, in this great United States, the most important amendment to the Bill of Rights, the Right to Bear Arms, is not applicable. Me, sitting in this courtroom, surrounded by fellow citizens, and I am forced to check my concealed weapons upon entry. It feels like doing your civic duty in Communist Russia.
What I have learned on Jury Duty
Everyone from high school and college is married (source: Facebook)
During the obligatory, annual Father’s Day phone call to Doug Hagan, the ever-so-lovable and always engaging Douglas informed me he served on the jury for a murder case back in the eighties. Verdict - guilty. So not only is Douglas responsible for putting the dog to sleep but also sentencing a man to a life in prison. Basically, the American criminal justice system rests in the Hagan hands. You’re welcome.
Peruvian Vestiges: How South America Changed My Life.
I left the Peru with priceless memories, new friends, and a wealth of unique experiences. What I did not leave Peru with was my work phone. This misfortune resulted in over $6,600 in stolen phone charges for calls made from Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, and Mexico. AT&T will not waive these charges on a work phone, and I have to take it up with my employer. Things are not looking good. Cost of trip - a little under $1,500. Cost of involvement with South American drug trade - $8,000 ($6,600 in stolen phone charges and $1,400 in legal fees should the DEA prosecute me).
Upgrade: We Might Be Up to Central Heating in About 20 More Moves.
I did not receive the hand-written letters and care packages you have sent the past month since I moved back in October. Let me recount how it all unfolded:
Monday: Receive call from roommate Sarah Lindenberg instructing me to not pay rent for the month
Tuesday: Sarah looks at an apartment in the Lower East Side and talks the broker down from $3,300/month + $3,000 broker fee to $3,000/month + no broker fee. She has skills.
Wednesday: Fill out paperwork and sign lease.
Conclusion: we picked up ceilings high enough to walk upright uninhibited, a sink we do not have to use for the bathroom and kitchen, a bedroom wider than my arm span, and an additional roommate, Annabel. Win, win, win, win all around.
We Hope You Enjoy Your Stay: Because Meanwhile Some Stranger is Auditing the Sh*t Out of Us.
This brings me to the now. I have spent the past week auditing a hotel chain. I just show up solo, ask for the controller and have two days to audit the hell out of them. Tablecloths – depreciate over one year. Items left behind by guests – debit goods to resell and credit other sources of revenue. The valuation adjustment for spoilage of complimentary cookies and chocolates on your pillow, an allowance for clean-up after the annual Mold Removal Convention. There are entries for this.
I have met many characters on these excursions. My favorite is a thirty-four year old controller who invites me out for drinks at 5:00 p.m., though I return afterwards to keep working. During one of these happy hours at the bar in the nearby mall, she stands up and shows me the various tattoos emblazoned across body parts rarely exposed to light, especially not in public. "This one was when I separated from my husband." "These rose petals have the initials of my cats and my grandparents." "I got this one to help me get through my bankruptcy." It was all a cry for help. I loved her. I love America.
Farewell: Near, Far, Wherever You Are; You are Safe in My Heart and My Heart Will Go On.
I am finalizing the design for my holiday card and accompanying ink pen. Please provide your mailing address. Even if I sent you one last year, please resend your address.
By reading this email, you are acknowledging this message cannot be forwarded to:
Anyone at my work, especially if they are members of an Asian accounting society
Anyone affiliated with P.S. 243
Anyone on my roommate's tennis team
Saturday, August 16, 2008 – Asian Accounting Society Convention
Friday afternoon I receive an email from a manager at work asking for assistance putting together the slides for an accounting convention. I show up Saturday morning at the Grand Hyatt. Turns out it's an Asian Accounting Society Convention. Between the intermittent exchanges in foreign languages, I sense they are arguing back and forth. Awkward. So this is how I spend Saturday morning, surrounded by strangers speaking broken English, instructing me to type dates and such into Powerpoint slides and fake laughing at accounting jokes.
"I don't know if you want to order lunch at Cosi; did you see Footnote 7 in their 2005 10-K?"
I don't know, but the woman across from me isn't even Asian. I am thinking about making a motion to throw her out.
Thursday, August 21, 2008 – P.S. 243
New York has an annual community service day where flabby, pale cubicle dwellers attempt to paint a mural on the cafeteria wall of an underprivileged school, while wearing oversized t-shirts with their company logos emblazoned across the chest. This allows them to pat themselves on the back having painted the shape of a monkey green while dripping paint all over the gym floor.
I participated last year and had a good time and signed up again this year. I receive an invitation to an orientation on Thursday. Turns out, I inadvertently enrolled as a site captain. I'm scared. I have no clue what I am doing. So if anyone wants to show up on the day of and help me out, let me know. The event is on Saturday, October 18; the school is somewhere in Brooklyn. See you there.
Saturday, August 23, 2008 – I'll get your hair did.
Arthur Ashe Kids Day is one of the opening events for the U.S. Open. My roommate's tennis team volunteers every year. Sarah, co-habitant of 112 MacDougal, was selected at CBS to cover the National Conventions and had to leave for Denver – kinda like how I was selected to copy regulatory calculations at work and had to leave for the 4th floor but more prestigious. Therefore, I filled in for her at the event.
Saturday morning I find myself in Flushing Queens wearing a medium men's polo shirt. The team leader for the event, wouldn't let me tuck in the shirt because I "disregarded" her instructions and wore non-khaki colored shorts and I could "get her in trouble." So here I am supposed to greet kids and families looking like I am not wearing any pants.
They have face painting and hair braiding and other attractions at this Kids Day festival. The hair braiding booth was late; they didn't bring enough people. I was recruited. They taught me how to weave and bead hair. So I spent four hours Saturday morning in Flushing Queens, surrounded by a Caribbean family, weaving hot pink polyester hair and beads into strangers' hair, sans pants.
Let me know if you want your hair weaved. I do events, bat mitzvahs, weddings, etc.
Saturday, August 30, 2008 – America?
I am leaving for Peru. It says it's still in America, but I cannot find it anywhere on the map. I guess it's probably by Hawaii. It's my birthday present from myself. I'll send an email update while I'm down there.
Saturday, September 6, 2008 – Lots of Motion in Multiple Directions
I'll be back from Peru and want to go dancing. Please let me know if you can make it on the 6th and I'll email you more details.
It's been real. Hope you're all doing well.
So the journey starts in Lima, Peru. I realized the taxi driver and I didn´t understand each other when we had the following exchange:
He motions for me to get down.
He motions towards the empty seat next to me.
I notice it´s really congested and we aren´t moving anywhere, so I think he´s indicating he´s not able to get in the High Occupancy Vehicle lane because he only has one passenger. "Oh, yeah, I guess we could have picked up another person. It probably would be less congested if we could be in the High Occupancy lane."
"Bandito, bandito, bandito, muy danger..."
I then realize he wants me to move my bag off the empty seat and hide it on the floor of the car.
I guess that was the sketchy part of town.
I wish I knew Spanish.
The hostel is in Central Lima. It´s swank. Chandeliers, fake marble statues, swank. I am staying in some hut on the roof. The wooden door is two feet wide and five feet tall and locked by a small padlock on the outside. I am not sure how I am going to be able to lock it from the inside though.
Peru Update 2 – sent August 31, 2008
Today, I woke up at six and decided to walk to the Pacific coast. It ended up being six miles and taking forever. Along the way, I crashed the synchronized warm up session for a 10-K (They coordinated their stretching en masse to techno, of course.) and some Catholic school girl parade.
While taking a cab back to Central Lima, the driver asked "¿Donde Estas?" I reply, "Estados Unidos." He lifts his hands in the air and yells, "Obama High Five!" We later bonded while whistling the hook to "Walk Like an Egyptian."
I am now in Cusco, which is absolutely beautiful. It´s in the Andes and full of winding cobblestone streets and steep stairways. I believe the previous statement is the equivalent of someone coming to America and saying "God, I just love Branson. It´s so clean and lovely."
Peru Update 3 – sent September 2, 2008
back to monday. sorry, but the caps doesn´t work on this computer.
i wrote thirty postcards and awoke early to mail them off, only to discover postage is two dollars a card, so yeah, if i promised you a card, it will be mailed from nyc.
i then headed back to the city center at the plaza de armas where a young boy percy approached me selling postcards. below are excerpts from the interaction, think back to 7th grade spanish class.
no, yo tengo trente postales y cero tarjetas. wtf?
como te llamo... yo tengo tres hermanos y tu... soy de estados unidos... escuela... me gusto matematicas... stuff like that
then i notice a gathering of citizens, banners and chanting.
protesta. gasolina protesta.
want to check it out?
so percy, the thirteen year old kid selling postcards and i watch the gasoline protests for a while. he wanted my email address, so i gave him a business card. hell, who knows, maybe his postcard business will take off and he’ll need an auditor when he ipos.
later in the afternoon, i am standing on the street waiting for the tram. it never comes. a man approaches me asking if i want to take a tour of some ruins around cusco. the bus leaves in ten minutes. i get on the bus.
i meet evadio, not sure about the spelling. he´s creepy creepster and after the tour asks me to a "nice dinner." recalling he has a weak digestive system and aversion to health code violations, i inform him i only eat guinea pig at street meat vendors and proceed to enter said shop. unfortunately, i discover they have no vegetarian options, so i have to awkwardly hang out at the sketch establishment for ten minutes to make sure the coast is clear before heading back out.
they are playing the high school musical soundtrack at this internet cafe.
Peru Update 4 – sent September 4, 2008
I know I am behind but Tuesday.
Last Thursday, yes, two days before I leave for Peru, I book the one-day tour to see Machu Picchu because all the do-it-yourself train tickets were sold out. I don't know if they were sold out since I cannot read Spanish websites, but it wasn't processing my order.
Friday, the tour company calls because they cannot process my tour order without my passport number. I call back. No one answers. I fax it to them (not sure if that's safe). I call them Saturday and give them my passport number and ask where the meeting place for the excursion is. They tell me to call back. I call back Sunday and Monday, and they tell me they will pick me up at the hotel at 5:30 a.m.
It's cold in Peru in September. It's cold at 5:30 a.m. I wait. I wait. I wait with taxi drivers who, sensing my frustration, begin to teach me curse words in Spanish to use when the tour guide arrives. At 6:30 a.m. I realize I will not be able to make the 6:50 a.m. train to Aguas Calientes to see the Machu Picchu, which is the last train you can take if you want to return the same day and is my last chance since I am leaving Peru the next day.
The lady at the hotel calls the tour company and using her secret, magic language tells them to come pick me up. I make it to the Machu Picchu.
It's glorious and neither words nor pictures can explain it.
While there, the Americans keep asking me if I am from Japan. Damn Americans. Consequently, I join a group of unemployed Europeans for hiking in the Andes. One Frenchman was a plastic surgeon, specializing in breast augmentation; the others were all unemployed and just traveling the world for a year. Europeans.
Peru Update 5 – sent September 4, 2008
Alright, alright. Here are the pictures: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2245636&l=31e8c&id=9604415
Thank you to anyone who read them. Thanks for being such great, supportive friends.