Friday, July 25, 2014

On Being Lonely

It's an interesting thing, loneliness. I have experienced it on numerous stages at various levels since moving, but I was not anticipating this last bout. It is a quiet loneliness, spurred by various factors, but those really do not matter. What matters is how one addresses it, so I will give the advice I have gathered from family, friends and personal exposure. It is certainly not fool proof, but perhaps someone will appreciate another's experience or needs to hear that they are not alone in their loneliness*. Plus, that stupid nagging voice that says I need to write will not shut up.

A) Acknowledge the feeling, but do not indulge it. You are entitled to your emotions. They are not crazy. Give them their time, but no more. Perhaps you need a good cry, an IPA, an extravagant sundae or a really long chatsky with a friend. Have that. Then continue.

2) Seek comfort in the right places. There are a lot of easy, immediate sources of comfort, but they are also fleeting and unfulfilling. Be cognizant of your motives.

Thirdly) Adjust expectations. Your closest friend has a boyfriend and spends time cultivating that relationship. The job comes with different challenges than you expected. The people you left behind go on living their lives without you. That is natural, and if you hinge your sense of stability on all aspects of life being dependable, you will be disappointed.

Cuatro) Be thankful. For the people who reach out to you, those who help you work through your state, the blessed life that you actually live. I am especially grateful when I am intensely homesick for family so strong, they will always be my ultimate rock.

E) Look at yourself, and be completely honest. At the end of the day, you are only in control of your attitude and actions. Decide what you need to do, and do it intently. For me, answers have ranged from forging or breaking relationships to physical outlets such as marathons or Crossfit to cutting unhealthy habits or thought patterns. Most recently, the answer has been, "be content to go on quietly."* Honestly, this is the hardest answer yet because I am an incredibly active person, but it has been a neat challenge.

6) Then... Get outside yourself and gain perspective. When I first moved to Charlottesville and in one of our many conversations, my mother told me to volunteer. That was not what my selfish post-grad self wanted to hear. I wanted pity, but instead I got practical advice.* Incidentally, I started volunteering and have been working with a group of high school girls the past four years, facilitating their growth into young women. Seeing their lives offers a humbling perspective to the blessings in my own life.

I started working at restaurants when I was fourteen. My favorite aspect is that it forces you to forget your problems. The customer does not care about how bad your day was; they want you to make their day better.

It is so easy to be consumed with ourselves and forget that we are not the only ones who experience these struggles. Even worse, we can begin to compare ourselves to others. Internet personas do not tell the whole story, and that person always smiling may be really tired of smiling. This leads me to my final point...

Finally) Decide to be happy, smile and laugh. It is not always easy, but in the illustrious words of Jimmy Doogan, "The hard is what makes it great." Of course this applies to softball, but I like to believe it applies to life as well.

I hope this does not sound depressing, as it is not meant to be. I am seriously blessed and recognize that. But that does not mean every day life is void of struggles. This is meant to acknowledge that.

*Of course this is written with the caveat that I do not always follow my own advice.
*I love you, Mom.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thank you, Friend.

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" Psalm 34:8. My mom has a verse for each of her children, and that is mine.

I have been mulling this post over more than most. It began as a tribute to this blog being a vehicle of vulnerability the past four years, but I knew I could not tell the small story of this blog without recognizing God. Yikes. Avid followers certainly have heard mention of God, but it does not make the public confession less intimidating. It is easy to casually acknowledge the existence of a higher being, but to claim He is actively working in your life is bold. Readers may consider me foolish and silly or worse, roll their eyes, thinking, "Dancing Anna at two o'clock on a Saturday night does not scream Christianity.*" It is certainly comfortable to tell stories of awkward moments or random musings, both of which are all too real. This is real, too, though, and it would be a disservice to all parties for me to write only about what I felt was safe.

From a young age, I was taught the practicality of God. A common mantra of my church's leaders was, "We believe this because it works." Not because it is easy or lavish, but because God's power and presence is undeniable. The underlying caveat of this is that it does not always work within the confines of your desires, and thus ensues the battle of will versus surrender. I have fought this battle numerous times, and upon reflection, find that only when I relinquish an arrogant insistence on self-reliance do I find myself fully aware of God's intricate planning.

For the sake of relative brevity*, we will begin this account at the turn of the New Year. I took a short online marketing course instructed by Seth Godin, my favorite of marketing gurus, and a simple seed was planted: I want to create. I did not know how, when or what. I was by no means unhappy in my current position but recognized that while I was contributing, I was not creating, and while my career trajectory could lead to the upper echelons of middle management, that would not ultimately satisfy me. I assumed God would call me to act upon this seed at some point in the distant future, especially because quitting a job twice in two years could be considered resume suicide. Wrong again, Anna. Have I not learned this lesson before?

At the beginning of last month, I felt a bit stagnate so shifted focus to adjusting aspects of life within my control. The first was fitness. My need to justify the exorbitant price of Crossfit already compels me to work out five times a week, so I began eating strict paleo, anticipating an improvement in performance. The second was stimulating my mind in a productive manner; I registered for the GMAT, knowing the scores last five years and business school could be an option. Of course, I would rather bypass the debt associated with obtaining an MBA, but studying for the test keeps doors open and is a better use of my spare time than eating bacon and watching the entirety of The Wire. Arguably.

As far as aspects outside my control, I made a concerted effort to earnestly give those to God. I prayed God would show me what was next in His plan while opening my heart to all possibilities, no matter the discomfort they may bring - though I prefered He did not call me to a convent, because abstaining from all forms of alcohol, though tolerable, was proving a bit difficult.

The final weekend of April, my pastor spoke of God using an act most personal to Peter, fishing, to reach him. He then encouraged us to pray for a similar revelation, and so I did. Later that week, I received an email asking if I had interest in a position at a local start-up. The position entailed various admin, personnel and ad hoc duties; it also offered the opportunity to help build their marketing program. Immediately, I got butterflies - the ones you get before a rival tennis match that scream, "This is it." When we met to discuss the position, I received a compliment that ranks in the top three of all time - it may even surpass Sam Bradford telling me he liked my hat at Foxfield 2012. They read my blog and were impressed with my style and flow.* Indeed, God used my most personal act, my writing, as a means to reveal Himself.

God is neat. I say neat for two reasons. It has a slightly juvenile connotation, and God's manner of working evokes a child-like sense of wonderment in me. A liquor poured neat is pure and smooth, unadulterated by opulent embellishments. At first glance, it may seem as though this came lavishly out of the blue, but it did not. Among other practical factors such as the company's need for personnel and my qualifications, it stemmed from a consistent effort to be authentic. When I began writing, I did not anticipate the journey leading anywhere in particular. I wrote when I felt ridiculous, sad, nostalgic or simply for the discipline of writing. I occasionally tracked my dashboard* to see how many times my blog had been viewed, allowing myself to wonder who may be reading and how my writing may affect them. Whenever I wrote, I held true to my promise that it would be honest, and God used that in a manner I had not considered.

There have been plenty of times the past four years I have given situations to God and he has closed doors that I, in my finite wisdom, would have preferred open. Retrospectively, I am always grateful He did. I am genuinely pumped for what lies ahead, as it is an opportunity to work hard, learn, create and make an impact.

I have other seeds: I want to live in a city and Spanish speaking country; I want to travel to Eastern Europe, attend every tennis grand slam; I want to be CMO, own a restaurant; I want to get married, coach college tennis, compete in an Ironman. I do not know if all or none of these will come to fruition, but I do know that refusing to settle means change will be an inevitable part of life. The comfort that God is real and He works makes those transitions exhilarating rather than daunting.

So, yes, I thank you for being a means of sincerity and personal growth. More than that, I thank God for working in a way that is so unmistakably relevant to me, I would be foolish not to follow.

*Of course I do not always behave like Christ. Hence, the need for Christ.
*Am I ever actually brief?
*Bahhh I have style and flow!
*And then got sad when I realized I was tracking my own pageviews.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Superlatives: A Tale of Tickets

"You gotta be kidding me!" My father moaned indignantly as the sirens glared in his rearview mirror. "This guy's got nothing better to do than sit there and pull me over. Kids, put on your seat belts." We knew the routine. While he may have been "going with the flow of traffic" and "his car was not made to go 35", within five minutes, Dad would receive a ticket, and the cop would be one closer to his quota. That is, after all, the only reason they gave tickets - that and money.

I inherited numerous favorable qualities from my father: love for Big Ten sports, Eastern European facial features, the ability to throw myself into a fit of laughter. I am not saying aggressive driving is unfavorable, but as evidenced by the following superlatives list chronicling my tickets, there has been an undeniable cost.

1. Most related to Zoolander. I turned left. At age sixteen, I nannied infant triplets five nights a week, possibly my most stressful job to date. I rarely enjoyed a night out, and when I did, there was a 40% chance I would break down because the radio played a sad song. This particular Saturday, my family was going to an Italian restaurant promising bread assortments, hearty pasta and rich desserts. I rushed from the children after their evening feeding and proceeded to gorge myself to the point of needing to unbutton my pants. Feeling a bit over satiated and exhausted, I drove about the massive parking lot, and upon finding an exit, realized I could not turn left. My destination was to the left. Were I to obey, I would have to U-turn or pull into a driveway and turn around, a far more dangerous alternative than turning left onto the temporarily abandoned road. I made the logical turn, and with that, sirens flared. My natural state was one on the verge of tears, yet I could muster nothing but resigned, slightly perturbed compliance when the cop asked for my information. I did not even have the presence of mind to zip my pants. After he left, I wept uncontrollably for ten minutes, not realizing this was merely the first in a saga of hopeless encounters accentuating the moral juxtaposition of assuming responsibility for my actions while seriously questioning the legitimacy of the rules which I was breaking.

2. Most bland. 67 in a 55. The cop was uninteresting, the circumstances were ordinary. It was your basic interaction where I accepted the consequences of my actions.

3. Most likely to get dismissed due to seduction. When I say seduction, I mean I had just worked a double at the Cheesecake Factory and had removed the sweaty polo, leaving only a camisole. There was probably hot fudge in my ponytail which may have been sexy. I was not dismissed. 75 in a 60. Classic speed trap. Yet another victim fell to the 5 mph differential between counties.

4. Most bizarre. Turning right. Near my alma mater, there is a street. There is no stop sign prior to said street, but there is a sign that says No Right Turn (6 AM - 6 PM). Cars park along the street leading to this sign, so it did not become visible until I was turning. When the cop pulled me over, he informed me the residents "had been complaining a lot about the excessive turning." This is not beyond belief, as the University Heights residents sometimes forgot they lived near a University. However, logic would follow that if there is no right turn from the North, there would be no left turn allowed from the South, but that is not the case. Cars can turn left onto the street all day. Seriously? I can't make this stuff up.

5. Most honest mistake. I turned right at a red light. Sirens flared. There was a sign that said No Turn on Red (School Days Only), but it was a snow day, so surely the caveat prevailed. He was not pulling me over for turning right, but rather a license plate eight months past expiration. "Interesting", I told him. "I was not aware they expired." This did not elicit sympathy, and I cannot say I blame the man. I blame the government for creating yet another annual fee.

6. Double Whammy. 37 in a 25 and no license plate. The irony of this particular ticket is that I received it in Euclid, Ohio. For those who are not well acquainted with the Cleveland suburb, it is home to numerous miscreants and deviants. Yet, of course, the cops preyed on the girl whose foot got a little heavy as she listened to T.I. The cop was also kind enough to point out my lack of front license plate. I tried to tell him that drilling holes into the front bumper ruined the aesthetics of the vehicle, but he did not appreciate the fact that both the license plate and my insurance card were in my dad's office. Two tickets. Two hundred fifty dollars.

7. Biggest plea for mercy. 87 in a 65. I was returning from an interview in Charlottesville earlier that day where I solved problems on the dry erase board in front of the CEO. I had tennis practice at six o'clock the next morning, and my bed beckoned aggressively. I momentarily lost myself in a T.I. song, and before I realized my speed, the cop had clocked me. The Ohio turnpike has no excuse for not raising the speed limit on a three lane highway void of hills and curves, but now was not the time for arguing. I tried to plead my case when he approached the vehicle, to which he replied, "Do you know how fast you were going? 87 in a 65. I am going to write you a ticket." He turned, and I leaned in desperation, pleading, "Pleeeease have mercy on me." He answered, "87 is really fast," and wrote me a two hundred dollar ticket.

8. Most attributable to my car. 37 in a 25. Fun fact about this ticket: I interviewed on this day as well, so perhaps there is a causal relationship between the two. I was driving home from tennis practice and stopped at a red light, I knew this particular light took an eternity, so I put the car in park and reflected on my interview responses. Looking up, I saw the light had turned green, and knowing the short window in which to make my move, I jerked the car in gear and stepped on the gas. Two seconds later the cop I had mentally noted on my way to tennis turned on the sirens. He had been anxiously waiting in a residential driveway. Questionable, to say the least.

9. Most legit. 77 in a 65. Ohio turnpike. I still hold my aforementioned grievances with the turnpike, but foolish is the one who makes the same mistake twice.

10. Most hopeful. In the spirit of optimism, I will end on a positive interaction. When the officer approached my window, I immediately confessed, "I have a terrible record, sir, but I cannot afford another ticket." He replied, "Yes, it is pretty bad," and graciously granted me a warning.

Interestingly enough, I never lost my license. While I partially blame my record on an inherited love for speed, my father's involvement with the court system also allowed me to get a few reduced to very expensive parking tickets with an exorbitant court fee.

I am happy to say I have been clean for two and a half years, save the occasional parking ticket. I walk to work and no longer live amongst the pettiest cops in the force. When I do go on road trips, I listen to audio books, a more soothing alternative to T.I. and the Ohio turnpike increased the speed limit to 70. Should I get pulled over again, though, I am prepared to contend that Maleek's engine was simply not built for the confines stipulated by the rules of the road. It would be an insult to the Pontiac engineers.

Monday, March 24, 2014

What Do You Do When You Have Writer's Block?

You write, of course. It is indeed a worthy exercise. I will attribute my lack of inspiration to increased communication in other aspects of life, namely work. Believe it or not, I have a limit to the amount of talking/writing I can do, and that capacity seems to have been stretched as of late. Perhaps it is the seemingly endless winter. Living in Cleveland, I was mentally prepared for the season stretching thru the ides of May, but my expectations have definitely shifted in the past four years. I am tired of sweaters, sweatpants and a full hamper after only four days.

Speaking of hampers, I am attempting to perfect my laundry system. So as not to overwhelm myself, I switched from a "do two loads of laundry because you are getting weird looks from people in the gym" to "do a casual load every 4 - 5 days." By casual I mean I wash the clothes in the evening, put them in the dryer the following morning, and fold them upon returning home from work. Stretching the task over a 24 hour period and lessening the load makes it much less daunting, though I may be using a bit more water. To offset this indulgence, I now follow the recommended detergent measurement. I realized my extra splash for good measure is actually wasting valuable cents so have discontinued the process. I also adjusted my expectations regarding matching socks. If I happen to retain all socks after a load of laundry, I am thrilled, but the loss causes me little mental anguish.

The same is true of the Buckeyes fate in the tournament; alas, they were ousted the first round, but now I can watch the remainder unfettered by emotional attachment. Indeed, much of the weekend was spent imbibing the sweet competitive spirit that is exuberant announcers, bodies on the floor and cameras focused entirely too much on crying fans. I remember the days of yore when CBS had sole rights to the tournament. All games were broadcast in a glorious cluster of mayhem on Sunday. We sneaked into the high school library to catch the closing seconds of first round action, I had massive crushes on the beautiful men. The network had not yet introduced that annoying camera angle that films from the opposite end of the court that causes dizziness. Don't get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoyed my viewing experience. I just could not stay awake for the games on Sunday, had to work through the Duke loss and realized the beautiful boys may be out of age range. Maybe. I am still holding out for Aaron Craft.

I have not written much, but there is a theme, and that is adjusting expectations. Certainly, you should work to maximize potential concerning those matters within your control, but for those outside your control, expect less, whether that is the weather, laundry* or your favorite team**. Sometimes, you even have to lower expectations for yourself, knowing that while this may not be your best work, the practice is at times more beneficial then rigorous insistence on perfection.

* No, I do not believe I have control over whether or not the socks that entered the washer will also exit the dryer.
** Being from Cleveland, Ohio, it is very easy to expect less from sports teams.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Top Ten Countdown - Momma and Poppa Navs Edition

This week, my parents are celebrating their 37th wedding anniversary, an amazing picture of deliberate love. They came from very different backgrounds. Dad was the son of a Pennsylvania coal miner and Mom the daughter of a wealthy man whose means of income is still a bit of a mystery to me. When my grandfather first met Dad, hippie hair flowing, donning cut off shorts and a Jesus shirt, he was more than a little skeptical, but Mom and Dad were never skeptical.

Their love is steadfast. Each morning, they proclaim the same series of Bible verses and pray for their children. Throughout my childhood, they repeated much on a regular basis; as years pass and I am confronted with increasingly significant situations, I am thankful to have these nuggets for immediate application. In honor of them and the love for Sportscenter instilled by Dad, below are the top ten quotes I could not forget if I tried:

10. "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." This is extremely important for any teenage girl to remember and remains especially helpful on those mornings when I have three zits, droopy eyes and an extra bubbly butt.

9. "It's simple. There are four ways of spending money." What is the most inefficient way? Spending other people's money on other people, because you do not care about the quality or the price. This has been my economic stance for twenty years and will continue to be for the next twenty years. Yes, I was introduced to Milton Friedman's philosophy at age five.

8. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is usually followed by a deep breath and an action I could not do of my own will.

7. "Compete." Every point. Never leave a situation knowing you could have given more. My father's finest piece of coaching.

6. "People are idiots." This explains a lot of otherwise perplexing issues.

5. "Ideas have consequences." Guard your thought life, and purge poisonous thoughts before they ensnare you. Also, do not not be a communist, as that idea has extremely negative consequence.

4. "The greater the risk, the greater the reward." You are entitled to nothing and will not achieve great success within your comfort zone.

3. "Love is a decision, not an emotion." It is not flashy, but it is real, and it works.

2. "Be a leader, not a follower. The head and not the tail. A thermostat not a thermometer." This is their prayer for us every morning and each time we enter a new stage in our lives.

1. "God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." I recited this when I was six after a bad dream, twenty one moving to a new city, twenty three quitting my job, and every time I enter an uncomfortable social situation. Fear is crippling. But power, love, and a sound mind - these are liberating.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for deciding to love one another for the remainder of your lives and to love and support your children with vigor. Thank you for exemplifying sacrifice and unwavering faith in a beautiful manner. Most of all, thank you for laying a firm foundation that continually drives me to improve. I am incredibly grateful to be your daughter.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

On Conquering the New Year

The turn of the new year marks a time for reflection and resolutions. Obviously, I plan to have taken over the world by the age of thirty but recognize this does not happen without intermediate improvements. Before carefully considering the necessary steps this year, let us honor a few highlights from 2013:

1) Feats of food: Chugged a mug of cheese, caught a cupcake in my mouth.
2) Beat the company co-founder in tennis.
3) Went the entire year without being pulled over for speeding. I got pulled over for swerving, lack of license plates and incorrect registration stickers*. But not speeding.
4) Discovered a new perfume, arguably more attractive than my ten year staple scent.
5) Did not take one picture with my hand on my hip, the most common of female poses.

It is clear 2013 was a success, but I think it important to look expectantly toward the future rather than rest on my laurels. As I set goals for myself, I keep in mind the rule of SMART: Such Magnificence Always Requires Tweaking. Below are the few I deemed most pertinent:

1) Make she a prude. Restore her dignity. This is an initiative originating in 2013 to be pursued with increased vigor this year. The proverbial she, in "That's what she said" is constantly degrading herself, further encouraging the objectification of women. I plan to change this perception by having her reference restraint. "Do not go there." "Closed for the evening." "Stop." Etc.

2) Invent. I am currently inclined to create an electric shock device I can place on the small of my back to fend off overzealous pursuers. There are two people allowed to touch that region. Me, when I have an itch or want to draw attention to my chest in an awkward manner, and my imaginary masseuse. Not you, idiot at the bar who thinks our mutual interest in IPAs is a green light for this presumptuous and possessive gesture. ZAP.

3) Make one full Epicurious meal. I will dice, mince, julienne, grate. I will whisk the butter, zest the orange. I will even traverse Thailand to acquire the random spice that I cannot pronounce, tastes similar to cayenne pepper, but apparently takes the meal to an entirely different level.

4) Separate the chaff. Literally. I will venture to a field, gather grains and remove the glumes. Perhaps this will be on the same journey to find the aforementioned spice.

5) Rock a toothpick. It is in my blood; my dad constantly carried toothpicks until they were replaced by his pocket dental utensil, but I want to keep this old school. I picked up mint flavored toothpicks the other day and decided they are going to be my new prop. Providential timing, as my look was flirting with stagnation. I have not yet decided whether to introduce the toothpick to all aspects of my life or merely relevant social situations. Wherever I decide, the benefits are undeniable: it exudes provocative mystery, acts as a conversation piece, entertains me when I find my company bland; plus, it can be used as a weapon should someone pester me. Poke, poke.

6) Go to the dentist as I have not been in four years. Gasp. Relax. I can predict what they are going to say: "Your bottom teeth, the ones that no one sees, are a bit out of alignment, you have potential for a cavity to develop ten years from now, and if your mouth shrinks, you will not have room for your wisdom teeth. We recommend you take action immediately. Also, you should floss more." Never mind, I am taking this one off this list.

7) Perfect the ampersand. Though my chicken scratch penmanship mirrors that of an eight year old boy, I pride myself on exquisite symbols. I have beautiful tildes, appropriately spaced ellipsis and seductive curly brackets, but my ampersand leaves much to be desired.

8) Stop being awkward around Spanish speaking workers. I am a friendly person and generally engage all building employees in passing conversation. When interacting with Hispanic workers, however, my thought process goes something like this: "English or Spanish? I want to be considerate. Look to the floor while you decide. I do not want to assume they know English and have them flounder in conversation, but my Spanish is sub-par. If I start an actual conversation with them in Spanish, I will surely flounder. Ahhh we made eye contact." Then: "Hola. Como esta? Me llamo Anna. Me gusta queso. Adios!" Sheepishly be on my way...

In all seriousness, I do have goals for 2014 relating to my career, relationships, and physical prowess. I believe there is incredible merit in deliberately deciding directional focus*. If I reveal my focus in these areas, however, another may steal my insights and take over the world before me. I am certainly not about to give all that up on the Internet. That's what she said.

* Apparently, there is no month 15.
* As well as cool alliteration.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

6 Thoughts Regarding the Latrine

Lists seem to be the latest attention grabber. Thank you, Buzzfeed.

The list speaks to those driven by checking item after item, eliciting a feeling of success. Getting through point two is far more satisfying than paragraph two. Plus, there is a definite end which encourages the reader to press onward. I wonder if there are studies regarding the effectiveness of the number vs word in the title or which number draws the largest crowd. Maybe people are attracted to sleek numbers like 11 or 14, or maybe ones with healthy curves are more inviting - 23, 36 and the like. Research pending.

The whole idea of the list seems a bit too structured for me, but perhaps it will increase my already booming readership.

I have a lot of thoughts regarding public bathrooms, likely because much of my solid thinking occurs in the stall. It is a space of sweet solace from the hustle and bustle of online marketing, and due to the approximate six liters I drink per work day, I frequent it more than most. I think it a shame to keep profound nuggets confined to the latrine, and so I will share.

1) There are two types of people in the world. Those who avoid a dirty stall in disgust and those who remedy the problem. No one enjoys turning into a stall with a soiled toilet, whatever its contents, but rather than simply walking away, some choose to flush the toilet, sparing others from the site. If you do not make the two second sacrifice, the duty falls to another. With the exception of a legitimately clogged toilet, I encourage all to take this small step toward benefiting society.

2) There are three types of people in the world. Those who immediately ask for assistance in finding the bathroom, those who survey the landscape and seek guidance only if necessary and those who stubbornly wander aimlessly into the kitchen because they are too proud to ask directions. As a waitress at a restaurant with only one logical path to the restroom, I tired from those tapping my arm as I balance five martinis, inquiring of the bathroom's location in a panicked tone. I am not asking you to walk through a veritable maze to reach the restroom, but when the bar is in front of you, and the outdoors is to your right and behind you, common sense leads you on a leisurely, logistically certain stroll to your left. Godspeed, friend.

3) Once I find my way to public restrooms, I do not want to figure out which door I am to enter. Restaurants, hotels, bars: use your creativity to improve the overall ambiance, not to leave me guessing whether I am a horse or steer, chicken or rooster, queso or quesa. It can leave one quite confused.

4) I contend the bathroom is the cleanest space in the workplace. My office mates have the habit of walking around bare foot, but when venturing to the bathroom, most everyone wears shoes. I understand the negative stigma society places on the bathroom, and call me a hippie, but I have no problem going to the bathroom sans shoes if I am meandering about the office in that manner. After all, the bathroom is thoroughly Lysoled and disinfected every evening, whereas the carpet is vacuumed once a week. Even then, the fibers could be harboring countless germs. The potential of stepping in something unsavory is a defense for shoes, but since we are not at a dingy bar on a Friday night, the chances of this are slim to none. There are also those that say walking bare foot is disgusting at all times, and to that I offer a nod of acknowledgment.

5) I do not think automatic sinks are that neat. You cannot control the water temperature. I have been told all my life I am supposed to sing 'Happy Birthday' as I thoroughly scrub my hands under warm water, but since I have no control over temperature, the water is cold by the end of the first line. And the germs live on. I leave the bathroom with dirtier hands than bare feet.

6) Were I to be given the responsibility of office renovation, my highest priority would be the bathroom because of its level of intimacy. I have an ultimate vision of marble floors, granite counter tops, floor length skinny mirrors and a small waterfall. At the very least, I recommend stall doors extending to the floor, soothing music transporting one to the Enchanted Forest and a painted wall. I vacillate as to the color, but it definitely needs to exude serenity, so perhaps a taupe or mauve. The bathroom must be a place of refuge, not one of self conscience inhibitions.

Next time, please join me for 14 reasons why I am a better driver than 85% of Charlottesville.