Sunday, February 15, 2015

From the Archives: Old Worn-Out Saddles and Old Worn-Out Memories

After 16 hours by train and eight hours by bus, we arrived in Jaisalmer in the state of Rajisthan. I'm choosing to call the locale a stone's throw from Pakistan. We were drawn to Jaisalmer for a few reasons, but we had one main purpose: to trek the desert on camels.

For the first time in my life I opted for the pricier package. After the slickest salesman in this monstrous country nearly talked Kady and me into the two-night/three-day package, we purchased two days of camel riding and one evening of under-the-stars sleeping. Why the pricier package? Because it came with warmer bedding, and this place is freeeeeezing. How freezing? So freezing that on the train we took from Mumbai to Jodhpur the night prior, we were ten-times more traumatized by the freezing cold temperatures than by the man who was doing the thing that we hoped he wasn't doing but most certainly knew he was doing and wow he didn't even stop doing when accidental eye contact occurred. That's how freezing.

At 6:30 a.m. we begrudgingly climbed into a jeep that took us 50 km outside of the city. Our camel hands made us chai, eggs and toast over an open fire, gave us a boost onto our camels and a 15-second camel-riding lesson, and we were off.

We made a brief stop in a village where the locals no doubt daily roll their eyes at all the Westeners in their technical gear who traipse by for photos of the authentic Rajisthany-village life.

And though my version of technical gear was a little more thrift-store-Target-Old-Navy chic, I didn't mind being one of these tools. Especially after they helped me tie a Lawrence-of-Arabia-esque turban.

Who's the tool now, huh?

Our next stop was a shaded spot under a tree while a lunch of chai, chapattis, rice and vegetable curry was prepared.

We listened to music and goofed off during this hottest time of day until this desert man appeared and things got real.

He was hunting some sort of predator that had killed a sheep the night prior. He didn't speak a word of English but all I felt towards him was warmth, which was most certainly 100 percent because he looked exactly like an Indian Bill Murray.

Well, this picture doesn't show much warmth because I sure wasn't expecting his face to touch mine:

But in this shot, I was channeling my inner desert comrade character (this was good stuff, friends):

Several visitors joined the cooking fire and were all fed. Besides Desert Zissou, my favorite desert character visitor was a shepherd-boy—because then our guides milked some of his goats and made us more chai. Chai. In the desert. With goat milk. From a goat I had been anthropomorphizing for an hour.

A little after 3:00 p.m., we were back on the camels. Kady rode headstrong-yet-mild Johnny while I rode the lead camel whose name I could not master any better than I could his nostril reigns. Meanwhile, I vacillated wildly between two proposed realities:

Number 1: The entire experience was some surreal sideshow orchestration put on just for us—from the paan-mouthed village children riding dwarfed donkeys to the antique-rifle-toting mystery man.

Carnival-Reality Pose

Number 2: I was a pioneer desert women who had infiltrated the northeast-Indian desert.

Pioneer Pose
But it's nothing short of morbidly arrogant to think a scene exists for you and you only (barring most of the Mexican coast of course) and the more elaborate my pioneer character became, the more I realized she was not only actually a dude—a really chauvinistic one at that—but the embodiment of three decades of Willy Nelson lyrics.

I made peace with a place somewhere in between as we made camp for a night spent under the full moon and stars.

Traveling through India is an unremitting reminder of how little one needs to survive. My toiletry bag shames me unceasingly. When I awoke the next morning to the smell of fresh ginger and cardamom seeping in chai and the gentle grunts and belches of camels, I realized that all it really takes to make me happy is a 50-km jeep ride to the desert and my own tame camel and two or three men to carry all my stuff and make all my meals and all the mineral water I can drink and someone to build me a fire and then clean up after the meal they made me and help me on and off my camel and answer all of my questions and an iPod and portable speakers and a big warm bed and all the blankets I can dream of piled on me by men who will get me more water or food or chai or fire.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

...More Like Introjerk—How to Live in Harmony with Your Contravert

From the Archives: A discussion on introversion/extroversion based on two girls who were broke and started a cupcake company shared a job, a car, an apartment and all meals and workouts...

There was a part of me that thought—for one second—”I'm gonna make this really, really good!”

People are sometimes confused when they learn that I'm an introvert. I understand. Because the thing is—I'm not particularly shy. Sometimes I even feel really on and chatty and can seamlessly flow from funny quibble to quippish anecdote like nobody's business(*1), but afterwords I'm exhausted and then suffer a crisis over my vacillating authenticity and temperamental bravado, which is followed by a pretty dark and weird tormented internal monologue that goes something like this:


Maybe I'm an ambivert.

A lot of you are familiar with my friend and occasional travel partner and onetime part-time temporary roommate, Kady, of A Lady Reveals Nothing, and perhaps you and I even share her in common as our most extroverted friend—or even the most extroverted human we know.

Here she is just...hanging out with strangers like it's no big deal. Like they're not going to suck all of her life-force vital energy from her:

Here are some examples of Kady's manifested extroversion:
  • When she places a phone call, she doesn't chant, “please don't pick up please don't pick up” over and over under her breathe.
  • She smiles and waves at every single stranger we encounter, especially if they speak English. But non-English speakers are also invited into her charming orb of interaction.
    • The girl can talk. Someone once asked her, “Do you ever think anything you don't say?”
    (it wasn't me)
        I, on the other hand, viewed our  New Orleans carpool commute to work as a social activity. On top of that, while we lived together working in New Orleans, I kept accidentally saying really mean things to her. Just two days into living and working together I said, “Man, we really need to be sure and schedule time apart.” See, I assumed she needs her alone time as much as I do, so this is what I meant to say: 

          • we live together
          • we work together
          • we commute to work together
          • we work out together
          • we know the same people
          • we cook and eat together
        ...and I want to make sure that whenever possible I make myself scarce so you don't start hating me.”

        My statement was about taking preventative measures to stay friends. But after it came out of my mouth I realized it sounded a lot more like, “Gawwwd I'm sick of your face.”

        How could I ever get sick of this face?

        My intro-awkwardness spills over into other categories of everyday life. For example, I really struggle with talking on the phone. It doesn't matter who you are or how much I love you; the entire interaction gives me anxiety. I've decided a lot of it stems from having no idea how the conversation is going to end.

        AND because I over-analyze everything, and because there are no visual cues, I'm convinced you are racking your brain trying to find a polite way to get rid of me. And because I am absurdly sensitive to rejection (yeah, another shocker for those who also think I'm an extrovert), I'm trying to break up with you before you break up with me.

        I had come up with a solution in recent years to say, “I'm so sorry but I really, really have to go to the bathroom.” First off, this is never a lie, because, as Kady will attest, I always have to go to the bathroom. But I made the mistake of telling people about this conversation-exit strategy and then some of my really good friends informed me that I've used that one on them.

        The other day before Kady and I headed out for a night on the town (which for this introvert meant changing out of sweatpants and getting a drink 20 steps from our doorstep), I realized I was ready and she was preoccupied. She said, “I'm sorry; I'm chatting with three different people, but I'm wrapping it up.” I let out a deep sigh and said, “I'm so exhausted by what you just said I think I need to lie down.”

        We then chatted about the differences between her extro and my intro, and when she asked if she was annoying, I assured her that she was in no way ever doing anything wrong. But I couldn't even say that in a non-mean way. In fact, I said this:
        “You've done absolutely nothing to annoy me but I'm just so aware of your presence all the time.”
        After reading about what an introjerk I am, it's very important you know I have spent time on both sides of the “___version” fence; I've just been stuck over here on the intro side for a much longer period of time. And because my ambiversion obviously translates into my being an expert on the topic, I've accumulated some important information for both intros and  extros:

        Many extroverts at times experience guilt over their extroversion.
        • They may believe that they are perceived as obtuse, narcissistic, overbearing or even unintelligent.
        • They may fear they make others uncomfortable with their gregarious or possibly domineering nature.
        Many introverts at times experience guilt over their introversion.
        • They may believe that they are perceived as judgmental, snooty or even unintelligent.
        • They may fear they make others uncomfortable with their reserved nature.
        Do not assume an extrovert is a confident person.
        • They may be painfully insecure or suffer from extremely low self-esteem.
        • They might envy the introvert's air of mystery and apparent poise.
        Do not interpret an introvert's reticence as judgment or disdain.
        • They're probably just letting it all sink in.
        • They may be painfully insecure or suffer from extremely low self-esteem.
        • They might even envy the extrovert's apparent social ease.
        Extroverts are often jealous of introverts' personae or personalities. 

        Introverts are often jealous of extroverts' personae or personalities. 

        Introverts are not necessarily smarter than you just because they don't say stupid things.
        • I mean, they usually say a lot less, the math...
        Do not assume what you see is what you get—and all you get—when observing an extrovert.
        • There's more to every story, dummy
        And in conclusion, if you are an extrovert sharing a space or a life with an introvert who needs some alone time, know that they are not necessarily sick of you; sometimes they're just sick of not being alone.

        And if you are an introvert, remember that no matter how earnest your intentions are, it always and only sounds really mean to say, “Wow this movie looks so good! You should go see it... yourself... or right now...”

        (*1) and sometimes I apparently say “like nobody's business”

        Tuesday, December 23, 2014

        Links for Lazy Writers Like Me


        Just thinking about 3D printing melts my brain. Here is another cool article about both 3D printing and badass prosthetics.

        Haven't had enough Serial? Here's what's happening currently.

        A blog filled with cool people who have cool jobs and things and do cool things looking cool.

        If your house was burning, what would you take with you? Here's a blog of photographic collections of such things. Judge away!

        Comedians in cars getting coffee. That' That's what this is.

        Tuesday, December 9, 2014

        Links for Lazy Writers Like Me

        Two things about this video that make me love it: 1.) It's a great testament to the power of design. 2.) I'm always trying to get myself to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator (...but I'm so laaaaaazy).

        Speaking of design, here is a podcast my good friend recommended. Short synopsis:
        99% Invisible is a tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.” This one has incredible quotes stated by one of the most beautiful voices you'll ever hear.
        It's little things like this that help turn an apartment into a home—also, where has it been all my life?

        You probably know that I love animals, but did you know I'm actually kind of scared of cats? Still, I'm in a frenzy over these feline fashions. Okay, not really in a frenzy but I love alliteration.

        I am very, very intrigued by this marginally paradoxical app. I think I'm going to download it and see what I think.

        Is this enough links to merit a post?

        Tuesday, November 25, 2014

        For the Greater Good

        This is a story about the time a distributor sampling his products in-store misunderstood something I said and I wrestled with whether or not to correct him and re-explain myself and it haunted me all the way home and even an hour later and then I decided to blog about it a month later.

        Understand this: absolutely nothing negative came from this misunderstanding. I was looking closely at the product labels and, when he remarked on this, I said that I was in advertising—that this is what I do. I meant that I, well, make labels for products. What he thought was that I was turning all of his products to be forward facing for a better product presentation. He even got to tell a charming little chesnut about his second fridge at home and how every label is forward facing.

        This was a completely positive interaction with a stranger—a real win for me, frankly. But the need to get to the deeper truth of the matter was almost unbearable.

        But Why???

        What is this imagined truth?

        In the end I said nothing and shrugged it off. And it's not like I'm still thinking about it a month later or anything. Oh, wait...

        There are very few truths in this world; the rest is all on a spectrum of grays, and practically none of them are worth wasting breath over.

        Here are things that aren't worth proving yourself right over:
        • What color that wall was
        • Which way is the faster way to cook noodles
        • Which actor said that one line
        • The exact order of events in an anecdotal tidbit
        • Most other stuff and things
        So what if the next time we felt the urgent need to correct someone or to interject someone's narrative with our more-factual gospel, we just paused and asked ourselves, “Why is it important that I speak up in this instant? What would do or be the greater good?” 

        Now, I double dare you all to correct my thinking.

        Thursday, November 20, 2014

        Hey, Wait a Second

        Well, I'll start with this: these are not Celebrity Love Connections. What you're looking at is my online generated list of Celebrity Face Matches.

        Your eyes do not deceive you: What you're seeing are the faces of five men, the youngest of whom is Fred Durst, born 1970—12 years before me—followed by next-youngest, Bruce Willis—born 1955. The eldest sir, Oscar de la Renta, clocks in at a good-for-him 82 years of age (exactly 50 years and 3 days older than me).

        Good thing the click of a blue bar offered me additional celebrity matches!

        It's not that I wasn't thrilled to see Cate Blanchett show up as my face match. I just really, really wanted more women to show up. So I tried some more photos of myself—as if I was going to find a more “feminine” photo of myself than that one where I had a skinny face for, like, three days.

        Hmmm. Well at least this time two classically handsome actors showed up?

        But my desperation was increasing. I dug deeper into the archives of photographic evidence of my existence. 

        A woman! In the first row!!! But I wanted more. I dug even deeper.

        I mean I always liked to believe that I looked like Shalom Harlow or some other lady alien gazelle. But the internet never lies, even when mirrors do. Right?

        Thursday, October 30, 2014

        Office Creep

        Today is a full day in the office. There happens to be a dog costume contest, so there are at least 10 dogs in the office. There was also a chili cook-off contest, in addition to some pretty extensive construction happening about 15 feet from my office door.

        As you might imagine, I'm not exactly deeply engrossed in my work. But the surprising part is, as delightful as the three costumed dachshunds that just inspected my office may have been, what really pulled me in was this 10-minute spectacle of a construction worker calmly untangling about 30 feet of elaborately tangled cables and wires.

        I was entranced.

        Then it occurred to me what a creep I was being. So I captured a bit of my voyeurism on film.

        Office Construction from Summer Grimes on Vimeo.