Tuesday, January 30, 2007

As the receptionist at a pretty big energy company, I get a lot of calls. Most of the time I have exchanges with normal, rational human beings who generally fit into 3 main groups.

Business types: know exactly who they want to talk to, and they don't waste time. These ones are usually courteous, but not friendly. they'll often wait to be transferred without saying thank you and will treat me like I'm mentally disabled if I ask them to spell someone's last name.

Sales: They give the impression of false friendliness. Sales calers open up with "Hi there, I'm so-and-so from some supply company, and how are you today?" and usually want to talk to the person with "the most authority in purchasing" whatever product their company sells.

Land Owners: These are normal people who own royalties or interests, and these are my favorite ones because they're almost always friendly with me. I can tell they don't fit in the first two groups right off the bat because they'll 1) speak with a thick drawl, 2) mumble a little, 3) be really polite. These guys will tell me their life story if I let them.

Then, I get the exceptions to the 3 groups. Some nutcase will call up 25 times in 5 minutes asking to be transferred to the same person over and over again, that kind of thing. Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a guy whose caller ID came up from a TINY town in North Dakota. He had bad signal, or something, because he was breaking up a lot, and practically yelling.

Me: Good afternoon, [the company I work for].
Mr. ND: Yeah, uh, where you at?
Me: brief pause... (do I know this guy?)
Mr. ND: uhh, Denver?
Me: Yes sir, this is the Denver office. How can I help you?
Mr. ND: UH, I wanna talk to Richard SomethingSomething. (it definitely started with A and ended in SON, and probably had a CH, and 3 syllables, but I couldn't understand him, so I looked up all the "Richards" in our company. Nothing even remotely close.)
Me: I'm sorry sir, I don't have his name in my database. Could you-
Me: Oh, Ok. I only have numbers for permanent employees. Do you happen to know who he's working under?
Mr. ND: I wanna talk to Richard (Archenson? Alendachson? Alfunderchson?). I'm gonna sue you guys because a' him.
Me: Sir, I'd like to put you through to him, but I'll need some more information first.
MR. ND: Look, I don't wanna talk to 'im! He's a terrorist.
Stephen (his comment when I told him the story): Sir, perhaps you should call homeland security.
Me: (GAH! You just asked to talk to richard a?ch?son whatever) Well who do you need to talk to in order to resolve the issue?
Mr. ND: I wanna talk to the "big cheese" (spoken with an air of disdain).
Me: I can put you through to our president's assistant.
Stephen: Dick Cheney?
Me: One moment, please.
MR. ND: Fine.

I went to transfer him, but it went right to her voice mail, and I don't want this guy calling back with a threat on my life, so I was going to put him through to someone else, but he hung up. (bummer. I was really enjoying our conversation.) He was only on hold 15, maybe 20 seconds. Anyway, North Dakota didn't call back. Maybe bitching at me made him feel better, gave him some sense of satisfaction. The truth is, this guy wasn't actually that bad (just bizarre), but as the receptionist, I AM the company. I'm not viewed as a person; I'm a corporation, so it's ok to call me and yell at me and curse at me because someone in accounts payable is on vacation and isn't answering their phone.

Please, readers, don't be jerks. Treat receptionists with respect. Not all of them deserve it, but they all deserve the benefit of the doubt, and none of them deserve to be treated like crap.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I went through my debit card withdrawals for the month and discovered that I spent $77.74 on coffee. Granted, some of that is because I was nice and bought drinks for other people, but I also carry cash from time to time, so that figure doesn't represent cash for coffee, so I guess it evens out. Frickin $77.74 is A LOT to spend in one month on coffee, especially on the poor-quality over-roasted stuff they churn out Starbucks. So my goal is to cut that down by two thirds (about $25ish), and since I'm the only one accountable for what I spend for the next couple months, I'm going to post every time I buy coffee, and how much I spent on it, and hopefully I'll develop a better spending habit.

Today I spent $4.75 at Starbucks for a triple grande extra caramel iced caramel latte that, to be honest, I didn't actually enjoy that much. I am SUCH a yuppie. There's something shameful about having to admit I just spent nearly 5 bucks on some fru-fru drink I could have whipped up at home. Each of you may feel free to digitally slap me for my foolish, foolish coffee habit.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I come from a really weird family: none of the men in my family (and I mean NONE) are into football. Don't get me wrong, I'm talking about MEN. It's just that the sports I grew up playing/watching/caring about/understanding at all are things like hiking, biking, camping, skiing, martial arts. Individual sports. With the exception of hockey (which we didn't care about either, till the Avs officially became an NHL entity in 1995) and the olympics, we've NEVER watched sports. Furthermore, we've only watched one single NFL game as a family: the 97' Superbowl, which the Broncos won.

I remember because 1) my dad was involved in some casual pool at work and had bet something on the outcome of the game and 2) My 6th grade science teacher made my whole class guess the final score, and the winner (me, coincidentally) won the candy of their choice. We both had vested interests, but I mostly watched for the commercials.

Stephen, on the other hand, watches because he (like most men) enjoys and comprehends the sport of American Football. He organizes this pick em' league on yahoo.com every year which I, as the girlfriend, was invited to participate in. I think he invited me because he sort of had to, and because I'm usually bored at work. He certainly didn't think I'd be any good at it (given that I usually have to ask if the team you're babbling about plays football or baseball and am often met with the indignant response that they in fact play basketball), but I actually came 2 or 3 points away from beating him.

You men out there probably predict the winners based on the skill, players, and history of the teams involved, and possibly on something called a "spread". I don't know any of that stuff. I know we used to have a guy named John Elway on our team, and he was pretty good, apparently. And that Reggie Bush is not the quarterback for the Saints (but he is one good lookin cat). I also have a very general understanding of how to score points, and that it's important not to drop the ball/try to catch the ball. Also, there are "downs", 4 of them (whatever that means), represented by a digitally projected yellow line, and Stephen gets upset when we don't "get them". I'm sure you can imagine that I'm a bit taxing to try and watch a game with. For example, here is a conversation with Stephen during the recent Colts/Patriots game:

Rachel: I can't tell what's going on.
Stephen: [pause] Well, the Colts just... (here he lapses into technical jargon, which to me sounds like "wah wah wah wah Colts wah wah wah Manning wah WAH WAH wah Patriots wah wah")
R: No, I mean, they're all piled up. I can't tell them apart.
S: The colts are wearing blue.
R: They're BOTH wearing blue. When they're all jumbled up like that [mumbling]... I can' tell them apart because the shades of blue are-
S: [interrupting] The colts are wearing blue shirts. The patriots are wearing white shirts.
R: [impatiently] I know what they're wearing, I'm just saying when they're all running around so close together I just can't tell who's who. So much BLUE.
S: I don't understand the problem. The colts are in blue shirts, and-
R: Never mind! [crosses arms].

That's one of our more productive football related exchanges. So how did I almost beat Stephen? My strategy: COLORS. That's right. I pick teams based on which colors are most aesthetically pleasing when placed next to each other, and which colors I inherently do not like. From time to time, I will pick because "I've heard that city is very nice in the fall" or "Someone told me that so-and-so on that team is a nice guy" or "I don't care if they suck, I just like them". Through this method I've learned the name, location, mascot, logo, and color theme of almost all the teams in the NFL and can even accurately identify the sport which any given team plays. It's amazing how the color method (patent pending!) has worked for me, though it's kind of a toss-up when I'm faced with a match up of two teams with very similar colors, such as the Colts/Patriots game mentioned above. For the record, I picked the colts in that game, even though I couldn't tell who they were for basically the whole game. Whatever. Give me a beer and I'll watch happily.

So if you want to be a winner on February the 4th, follow my advice and root for the Chicago Bears over the Indianapolis Colts (or as I like to say, Indianapolis 'corns, as in unicorns. Actually, I don't say that. I just made it up just now. I'm hilarious.). Why, you ask? I have many good reasons:

1. Dark blue and orange is better than sky blue and white.
2. The bears won the Superbowl in 1985, my birth year. How awesome would it be if they won again, 21 years later?!? It would be most awesome indeed.
3. Rex is the greatest name for a white guy, especially one of the quarterback persuasion.
4. Chicago is a great city with a lot of history and cool architecture.
5. Lets think real-life match up. Wild, ferocious bear versus scrawny little baby horse. That cute little horse can barely stand. The bear eats the colt, and it's sad, but that's the way life goes.
6. Peyton Manning acts like a petulant child when things don't go well for the Colts. Watch him on the sidelines, throwing a tantrum, waving his arms and pouting like a 4 year old. Yuck.
7. The logo in the middle of the Colts field is a big helmet. Seriously, guys. ALL the teams wear helmets. 0 points for creativity!
8. Another important team, the Cubs (baseball, for those of you ig'nrant fools who don't know), are based in Chicago... so, more points for Chicago. Because I like the Cubs. But... I hate the Blackhawks. Yeah, it doesn't really make sense, actually.

Just look at that little cutie! What kind of sick bastard doesn't love his little angry face?!? He thinks he's so tough, the rascal!

Go Bears!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I had jury duty on Monday. On one hand, it was a sort of milestone- my first time being called to participate in our one-of-a-kind government system, the awesome responsibility of sitting in judgement of another human being. On the other hand, it sucked. They called at least 150 people, about the amount needed to select 4 juries for 4 pending cases. They ended up dropping 2 of those cases, but I was in the lucky remaining group. I ended up sitting next to an older lady who smelled like the soap you use in a gas station bathroom.

Then we went up to the courtroom and the lawyers questioned the jury pool. Found out it was a criminal case. A man who couldn't speak English was being accused of possessing and distributing small amounts of cocaine. I was not selected to serve and ended up getting out fairly early. In fact, they didn't even question me.

Mostly, I left the court with a strong distaste for lawyers. I don't think the prosecution or defense asked a single straightforward question outside of "What is your name?" Every question was leading and manipulative. After they started to get to know some of the jurors personal convictions and history, they started giving them a really hard time, putting words in their mouths, etc. It was a little like watching Law and Order, as I was sitting in the audience section.

I don't want to offend anyone who might know an honest lawyer (HA!), but I think they're scummy and deceptive. SO here's a few lawyer jokes:

Q: What's the difference between an carp and a lawyer?
A: One's a scum-sucking bottom dweller and the other is a fish.

Q: Why won't sharks attack lawyers?
A: Professional courtesy.

Q: What do you get when you cross the Godfather with a lawyer?
A: An offer you can't understand.

Q: If you see a lawyer on a bicycle, why shouldn't you swerve to hit him?
A: It might be your bicycle.

Q: What happens when you lock a zombie in a room full of lawyers?
A: The zombie starves to death.

Quote in title is from Clarence Darrow.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hey ya'll! I'm scattered today. I have been very busy. Truthfully, I've been feeling completely overwhelmed. I'm the kind of person that really needs downtime, and I had things scheduled nearly every evening last week, and through to this weekend, and a lot of errands to run still. My writing reflects my state of mind. Unconnected, unpolished thoughts just sort of tumbling on the screen. Whatever. If you have the patience, read on!

My man's birthday is this week, so we're doing all sorts of fun stuff. Last night we went to Stephen's favorite steak restaurant and had a great dinner, and then we went to the Nuggets game (I got great seats). For anyone who keeps up with basketball, this was Carmelo's first game back from suspension and his first game playing with Alan Iverson. It was a lot of fun, and we won. I laughed at the skimpily clad cheerleaders (they call them the nuggets dancers) with their little pom poms and shiny white teeth and go go boots. During half time they did a promotion for a local sandwich shop. It was a relay game like the ones you played at summer camp. The girls wore big foam costumes (they were supposed to be slices of bread) and then girls from both teams ran from one end of the court to the other piling big foam pickles and tomatoes and cheese, etc. on the "bread". Then they topped it off with two more girls dressed like giant bread slices. Wierdest thing I have ever seen. This is why I like hockey- no chearleaders. I'll never be able to eat at Heidi's again without imagining my sandwich running around the table on a pair of sexy little gams.

I've organized a big dinner with a bunch of Stephen's friends, and we're going out (15 of us) on Saturday to get sushi. I put together the whole deal, called a few of his friends wives that I don't know well, and even did a little awkwardish chatting. If you know much about me, you'll congratulate me on this feat- I'm not really a big party person, nor am I a talk-on-the-phone person, nor have I ever been "one of the girls". So that was a stretch for me. Stephen's usually my buffer.

The other day I was talking with my mom about going to the Nuggets game and she said, "Does Stephen know yet?" "Aw, yeah," I replied. "I cracked 3 weeks ago". I'm a terrible secret keeper. Stephen knew about the game, and about me planning dinner. I'm managing to keep a small secret from him about something nice I'm planning for his ACTUAL birthday, Wednesday, and I'm just dying because it's such a good idea, and I have to tell someone, but ALAS! I can't even share it with you, for Stephen reads my blog. (babe, you can definitely count on me being consistently honest - dare I say tactless? - I can't help it.)

We went snowboarding on Saturday, and Amy and I stuck together while Stephen and friend rode the back bowl. Amy did great. We're really starting to look good... not cool, but good. I had so much fun that I decided to go alone on Sunday, so I loaded up my mom's subaru (my pathfinder's tires are in a shameful state and are not safe to drive in the snowy mountains) and headed west. I got there for first run of the day and it was an absolute blast. There was 3 inches of fresh powder and it continued to snow all day. I think I was really comfortable on my board for the first time. Driving home was a nightmare- but I've decided not to dwell on it.

Quick note: My grandmother (the woman can do anything with a sewing machine) put together the lining of my wedding dress and we did my first fitting. We're spending less on my dress than on my bouquet, and I get to wear a unique gown custom designed and custom fitted to my exact specifications. It's definitely unfinished, but I could picture it. I put my veil on and stood in front of the mirror while my grandma messed with the seams (trying not to poke me with pins and apologizing for "cold grandma fingers") and I got that butterflies-in-my-stomach excitement for the first time.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I’m going to let everyone in on a little RachelRenae background today. I used to be what most people (at least in my high school) would call “gothic”. I dressed in all black and didn’t talk to people. I colored my hair black, though it’s already very dark. I wore heavy black makeup. I wore all black clothes and usually looked very medieval- corsets, floor length dresses, lots of lace, long coats, etc. I’ve met plenty of kids who dress weird and are ok with themselves, but I was angry and hateful and didn’t feel right inside. I was trying hard to be different by looking different.

I used to have a bumper sticker that I stuck on a journal and quoted with pride: “It is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not.” I couldn’t have been more right, but I didn’t understand it at the time. I often declared, with an air of superiority, that I didn’t care what everyone thought of me; let them say ‘freak’, I bear the title with pride. Truthfully, I cared very much about the opinion of others- I needed my identity validated by the goths and the punks and the ‘nonconformists’. My defiance meant nothing to the majority, though I fancied it did. I had no idea who I was and spent years miserable and depressed, lying to myself and everyone else. What a waste.

I’ve made a lot of vows and promises based more on my misunderstanding or ignorance than anything else. Everyone does it. I used to promise that I’d never wear pink. It’s silly, but for me it was symbolic of weakness, of mindless femininity, of stupidity- this was rooted deeply in emotional wounds I had not at that time worked through. I finally gave that up when I got healed and healthy and saw that ‘woman’ and ‘weak’ are not synonymous. I also used to promise that I’d never get married, because I ‘don’t need some man to control my life’. I relinquished that promise when I realized that there are good men, and a good man will support and love me rather than manipulate and dominate me. I’m beginning to realize that the declarations I’ve made have kept me from experiencing life to the fullest.

In the past few years, I’ve become happy with my true identity and am unafraid to be myself. I seek approval from no man or woman. I’m girly and happy and normal looking and getting married and (gasp!) taking my fiance's name. My hair is my natural color. I know the fact that I wear jeans and hoodies and flip flops instead of trench coats and combat boots doesn’t make me a conformist, or a closed-minded fool.

I’ve changed a lot, but the biggest change is this: I finally have the freedom I once so desperately (and falsely) claimed: I really don’t care what anyone thinks when they see me. I’m not just saying it to sound bad-ass or imperious. I simply don’t care if I’m judged; I know who I am, and I know who my real judge is. I’ve lost the fear of man, and it happened without my trying or even noticing.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What would YOU do?

So, inspired by a comment from thom, I am issuing a challenge to my alleged "legions" of readers to make their own lists like the one I posted yesterday. It was a really interesting thing to think about- I found that many of the items that were even a little serious were in the interest of my loved ones more than of myself. However, I was asked to narrow down the amount of money won/found, which is hard for me to do (hence the "few million dollars" referenced in the aforementioned post), and to specify the number of items to be on this list.

What 10 things would you buy/do if you won the jackpot for 2 million dollars?

What if you had as much money as Oprah?

Monday, January 08, 2007


"I went to a pizzeria, I ordered a slice of pizza, the ****** gave me the smallest slice possible. If the pizza was a pie chart for what people would do if they found a million dollars, the ****** gave me the 'donate it to charity' slice. I would like to exchange this for the 'keep it'!" Mitch Hedberg, Mitch All Together

What would you do (honestly) if you won a few million bucks?

I would:

1. Dance around yelling and singing.

2. Tithe at least 10%. Give some more to charities I like.

3. Put 30-50% in a savings account (for my kids college and whatever).

4. Buy some really nice snowboarding gear for my sister.

5. Buy Stephen cool stuff (this one would warrant its own list but I'll spare you all the details and leave it with this vaguery).
6. Buy myself a Palmer snowboard and bindings and a new beanie because I left my favorite one on the light rail. Then I would snowboard. A lot. All over the country. (I'm getting a lot better. Boarding is so much fun when you're not landing upside-down on your bruised, throbbing ass all day long)

7. Buy a nice, modest house with: a basement so Stephen can play his drums and we can have a studio and room for our high-end recording equipment that we ALSO would have to buy; a kitchen with an island and lots of cabinet space; a big backyard.

8. Pay for school: mine, my sister's, my mom's.

9. Buy a car:
a) Practical. Subaru Outback, 4 wheel drive, with bike racks and ski racks, and one of those keep-your-dog-in-the-back-end-nets; in dark blue.
b) Fun. VW Jetta, fully equipped; in bright blue. Must buy peace-themed bumper sticker for affixement to rear bumper.
c) Ridiculous. 67' Chevy Corvette, with T-bar window, full sound system; in orange with black leather interior and tinted windows.

10. Open the artsy coffee shop Stephen used to dream about.

11. Have kids and raise them to be wise and practical and intelligent. Kids will then raise grandkids who I can spoil the crap out of.

12. Buy my dad something awesome, like a Harley (he currently drives a BMW bike), for being such a great father. Actually, he might prefer a new lawnmower instead. The point is to buy him a present.

13. Start buying nicer (AKA more expensive) wine.

14. Buy front row season tickets for the Avs (so I can get a close-up view of the action/probable fights). By the way, I'm going to see the Avalanche play the Redwings tomorrow night!!! REDWINGS SUCK!!!

15. Pay off the Webster guys to include the words "vaguery" (adjective; the state of being vague, to describe something vaguely) and "affixement" (noun; the act of affixing an item, something that affixes).
I'm sure everyone could keep going on a list like this, but I'm just going to stop now.

If you are unfortunate enough to live in one of the 20-or-so states that does not have chipotle locations, I am deeply sorry for you. Chipotle is based in Denver and there's locations throughout the city (in fact, I ate regularly for a few years at the very first Chipotle opened in Denver). Now I'm lucky enough to work within walking distance of one (on California St.), so I order my lunch online and go pick it up a few blocks from the office. When you place an online order, Chipotle sends a confirmation email including the location they sent your order to.

This cracks me up every time. Apparently my lunch is headed to the west coast- it may only take 10-15 minutes for them to receive the order, but it's going to take me considerably longer to get halfway across the country and pick it up. Not very convenient for me. Hey Thom, if you happen to come across my burrito, would you send it back my way?

By the way, Chipotle is pronounced Chi-POTE-lay. Also, please say "espresso", rather than expresso". And it's "especially", not "expecially". I think that's it. Thank you for your cooperation. Together we can raise the national IQ a few points.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I am one "one of them"

In case anyone out there has been living in a cave or under a rock, let me fill you in: over the past two weeks, Denver has recieved over 30 inches of snow in two seperate storms. One was the weekend before Christmas, and one was the weekend after. On one hand, it rocked. This is my first year working a real job (as opposed to being a full time student or a set-my-own-hours hairstylist), and every time Denver's had a blizzard in my lifetime, it's happened over either my Winter or Spring break, thus, I don't get any extra days off. This time, (including the holidays off) I got to have two six-day weekends in a row. On the other hand, it sucked. You'd think if suburbia gets slammed with 3 feet of snow, there's going to be even more in the mountains, right? That's what we thought, too, when we went up to snowboard right after the first blizzard. Breckenridge only got 3 inches, and the wind had whipped most of it off the slopes anyway.

Christmas was wonderful- the first white Christmas we've had in years. I received some great stuff from my family, my favorite of which being a cheese grater. Yes, a CHEESE GRATER. Lame, you say? No, practical. Stephen and I registered for wedding gifts a while ago (immediately after we got engaged, to be more specific), and we tried not to register for anything under 20 dollars. Our guests aren't getting away with being cheap and buying us stirring spoons and salad tongs. One of the very few "under 20" items we did register for is a cheese grater that stands on two legs over a plate, with two sides: one with BIG grates, and one with little grates (grates? is that right?). I HAD to put it on the list because Stephen's cheese grater is the biggest pain in the ass. The grates (this is what I'm going to call them from now on) are microscopic and you have to work a lot to get a little tiny pile of cheese that vaguely resembles confetti. Judging by the amount I have to say on the subject, perhaps you can imagine my reaction when I opened my (our) Christmas present from my Grandma and discovered that she had taken it upon herself to look up our registry and buy us a nifty new grater. I think my excitement could hardly be parallelled if I had received a new car.

It's exciting to get our first wedding present, and it's fun getting something useful that I had really wanted. I promised myself, when I was in my hardcore feminist phase, that I would never allow myself to be "one of those" women- the kind that gets excited about kitchen accessories. I now find that I AM "one of those women", and furthermore, that I know and respect a number of "those women". So what if I like to cook and bake? So what if I offer to do most of the cleaning? So what if I want to stay home and raise kids someday? Lately Stephen's been really stressed and really busy studying for an exam he has to pass by a certain date. I feel good knowing that I'm freeing him up and relieving some of his stress by cooking dinner and doing the dishes. I'd rather be the kind of woman that likes to give and serve and bless the people I love than the kind of woman that decries every homemaker as a traitor to the sex.