05 May 2011

Love on the winds of Petrol

Thanks to my new commute and my second job which sends me in three different directions I have to fill up my car with gas much more frequently. I get great mileage but I find myself hunting for a gas station almost once a week now. Quite the change from my 3-4 week interval when the office was just a few miles down the road. My goal is to find the cheapest gas but sometimes my hunt outlasts my gas tank and I have to resort to whatever is convenient so that I can actually make it to work the next morning. And what is often the most convenient is the Chevron just down the street from my house. It isn’t the cheapest but it is the most entertaining. And when I need a little affection, I know where to steer my car – straight to my gas station boyfriend at the Chevron!
I found myself in need of gas the other night; it was later in the evening so my best option was the Chevron. As I pulled in next to the pump I spotted my boyfriend, not in need of affection I didn’t put my window all the way down hoping that would deter him. Manuel was excited to see me, “Hello my friend!” “Hola, amigo.”  “I have not seen you in long time.” “I’ve been here, you have not.” I passed him my debit card and asked him to fill it up with regular. As he gave me my card back he mentioned that it was going to be his birthday the next day. “Really? It was your birthday the last time I was here!” He started laughing and reached in my window to squeeze my shoulder. Hm… guess having the window only half way down was not enough of a deterrent to touch me. “You come celebrate with tequila?” “It’s not your birthday.” “No, but you can come for tequila.” For some reason I started to wonder if I had his name correct. I’ve been calling him Manuel for awhile but suddenly I doubted if that was right. “Como se llama?” (Aren’t you impressed that I’m starting to actually try out my feeble Spanish with actual native speakers?!) He gasped, “What?” “Que es su nombre?” He acted hurt, taking quick gasps of air, “You no remember my name? You no know my name?”  “I think I do, but I am not sure.” “What you think?” “Manuel?” Looking pained, he responded “Ohhhh!! You no know my name!” As he walked to the other side of the pump to assist another customer he yelled over his shoulder, “You not my friend! You not my friend! But I love you.” I couldn’t help but laugh.
After getting the other car started he came back around and unzipped his coat to show me his name badge – Raphael. I’ve been calling him the wrong name all this time! But I think I’ll still call him Manuel, it suits him better. He then replaced the gas cap and handed me my receipt which was followed with his arm reaching in around my shoulders awkwardly through the limited  window opening to give me a hug.  “Bye bye. See you soon. I love you!” Through fits of laughter and shaking my head, “Adios amigo.” Yes, it is definitely worth the extra dollar for the entertainment.

Jon brings the entertainment

It was a lovely sunny day in Stumptown. The bright blue skies beckoned, my skin was craving to feel the sun and it's warmth. As lunch time rolled around I informed Jon that I was going for a long walk and hitting Starbucks on the way back. Would he like to join me or bring back a drink for him? He opted to come along for a stroll. We joined the throngs of other people along the waterfront marveling at the sun. I asked if he watched "The Voice" last night; we had both caught the last portion of it. I asked if he knew any of the judges - Christina Aguilera I knew, but not any of the guys. A barrage of questions came from Jon. "What? You don't know Adam?" "No." " Maroon 5. You've heard of them" "No." "What? You've never heard of Maroon 5? They're big. And you know Cee Lo." "I do?" "YES! Remember I sent you that video link awhile ago with the song that had all the swearing." "Oh, yeah! That's why the song sounded familiar." Jon and I discussed what a funny shape Cee Lo is - it's like his arms are too short for his body. Jon told me about his Grammy performance, for which he dressed up like a peacock which made Blake Shelton's comment last night make sense. And how he got started as part of Gnarles Barkley - Jon knows quite a bit about the guy.

Jon and I continued walking and talking, there is rarely a lack of words and topics. We did hit a Starbucks on our way back to the office for an afternoon caffeine pick-me-up. Once back in the office Jon took it upon himself to familiarize me with Cee Lo.  He was certain that I should know him. Jon started IMing me.

Jon: this song?  Remember it or no?
As I start to listen, I shake my head no.
Jon: not even THAT one?!
But then the refrain kicked in and I did start to recognize it. 
Jon: did you like his other song [Forget you]?  if he didn't swear and offend your little old lady ears?
When I read that last line I let out a loud burst of laughter that rang out across the whole office floor and I broke down into a hysterical fit of laughter until I was collapsed over the side of my chair crying. Where does he come up with this stuff?  But thanks to Jon I have had "Forget You"  - the clean version from the Grammy's (wouldn't want to offend my little old lady ears) - stuck in my head all afternoon. 

In retaliation I threw a little Laker smack his way. Jon, being a fairly recent So.Cal. transplant to Rip City has not been able to switch his team allegiance to the Trail Blazer and continues to support the Lakers, which is nearly a crime in my opinion. We've been talking smack about each other's teams for months now. I can count on always hearing the retort - "Well, you're originally from LA too!" Yeah, great come back dude! I'll text Jon after the Lakers lose a game, but he never responds, which slightly diminishes my enjoyment of gloating, but not so much as to make me stop. A couple weeks ago we started using our CSA weekly reporting as another platform to get a dig or two in; and using team colors to distinguish between our data. But here I have a distinct advantage as he fills it in first and then send it to me, and I forward it on to our manager, copying him. After I sent the email today I waited anxiously for him to open it. I was not disappointed, I knew exactly when he read it because he started really laughing. It's not often I get him laughing hard.
Today's email included this:

(For those who don't know - the guy is Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavricks who beat the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs, and are now trouncing the Lakers - much to my delight.)

03 May 2011

My Winning Week

The joke in my family is that my younger brother has all the luck, and if anything can go bizarrely wrong - it will happen to me. But this past week was different. Last week I was a winner! Not just for a day. It was a winning week! (So this is what it feels like for those who have everything come easy for them. This is what it's like for my brother all the time.)
It started with getting a new lawn on Monday. It looks so good!
A friend wandered back into my life on Tuesday.
I was invited to a graduation party for a college friend, and when I RSVP'ed my acceptance the enthusiastic response from the hostess - another college friend - deeply warmed my heart.
On a crazy lark, I participated in a scavenger hunt around town with the prize being a pair of tickets to the Blazer play-off game #6. I ran across the steel bridge, back over the bridge, down to the train station, rode the MAX across the river again. While I didn't win the tickets, I did win a drawing for a certified authentic signed Rudy Fernandez jersey. I would have preferred Andre Miller, but I was thrilled with #5 too!
I took a picture of me wearing the jersey and sent it to my brother. His response was hilarious. Incredulous that I would actually think of putting it on, even for the brief moment the photo took.
That alone would have made for a great week. But it kept getting better to my complete astonishment.
The next day we had our larger Test Services team meeting. Or, rather we attempted to have it - technology thwarted the effort. But our VP did give out special recognition awards for those who had worked on Theta. I wasn't sure if I would be included or not, but when Donna called out my name second to last the response was whooping and hollering from my dear fellow Content team members. The recognition for the extra work I have put into the project was very appreciated, and receiving a bonus award check sure sweetened the thanks.
Thursday evening was the bi-monthly HOTEL dinner, one of my favorite days. I had an opportunity to talk with some of my favorites, meet new residents, and was thoroughly amused when crazy Chris asked me out: "It would delight me terribly to enjoy some activity with you." Thursday also marked the last Perspectives class for this year, and I am thankful that the classes have come to a close. There was also a tragic event Thursday - the Blazers lost the game and were ousted from the play-offs. But that was the only downer of the week and it was quickly swept away in the pomp and circumstance of the Royal Wedding which I watched eagerly (the next morning).
But the best news of all came Friday evening when I opened the mail. My doctor had sent me a copy of my recent blood work. Seven weeks into major dietary changes to control my rheumatoid arthritis, my C reactive protein - an inflammatory marker - was down to 0.4. That's normal. I haven't been normal in 10 years since I was first diagnosed and started tracking that number. I found the copy of the blood work done just before I made all the changes and it was at 4.1 - low for me, but well above normal and into the high risk range. To have such a significant change in 2 months was surprising, amazing, and absolutely fantastic! It has spurred me on to continue on this path for health.
I have no idea what this week will hold. I doubt it will be as thrilling, but I know that if I keep an attitude of gratitude and keep my eyes open, God is blessing my life today and every day.There is so much to be grateful for in life.

Wearing my Rudy jersey!!