Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving… I’m home in Buffalo. It’s 4:30 in the morning, but I can’t sleep for some reason… Highlights: Flew home on Wednesday… saw a girl from my high school at the airport in DC, and we did the whole what-are-you-doing here? thing and caught up as we waited for our plane.

… Thanksgiving dinner was at our house this year, so my mom had much cooking and baking to do. I tried to help bake a pumpkin pie. But apparently, to make pie crust, you need to sift the flour first. My mom pulled out the sifter and it was all rusty inside. We debated for ten minutes over whether or not it would get rust in the pie. We decided it would. So I went out with my sister at 11pm to find a flour sifter. (Luckily, our 24-hour supermarket carries that stuff.)

Dinner itself was pretty small, just my family and just one set of grandparents. (We learned long ago that mixing grandparents was like mixing … whatever two household items always combine to make those science-project volcanos.) Our dinner conversation sounded like a holiday rendition of Abbott and Costello’s Who’s On First? routine.

Grandma: Did you see Carol Channing on TV yesterday?
My sister Christina: Who’s Carol Channing?
Mom: Ooo, I hate Carol Channing.
Grandma: You saw her on TV?
Mom: No, I’m glad I didn’t see her.
Christina: Who is she?
Mom: She’s like Judy Garland. She sang that song…
Grandpa: She never stood a chance against Judy Garland. Judy Garland will go down in history as one of the greatest singers of all time.
Christina: Who is she?
Grandma: She dances all around. Oh, she’s so limber. I love it.

hello my name is: clueless
I don’t have the ability to schmooze. It just feels slimy. And I don’t know what I’m doing. I tell myself that I’m networking. I tell myself that I’m just saying hello. I tell myself that I’m being friendly. I can’t! I am missing the schmoozing gene. I have neither the will nor the knowledge needed to do it.

I went to a children’s event at a public library today: Jazz singer Al Jarreau read aloud a book called Charlie Parker Played Bebop, by Chris Raschka. It was cool as anything to see the reading. It was more like a performance. He be-bopped through the book, singing all the right trumpet sounds.

But afterwards, a co-worker and I were supposed to meet people — Verizon was funding the event. We were supposed to meet Verizon people. Maybe they could give us money. A local children’s author was there. We were supposed to meet her. Maybe she could appear at one of our events.

Instead, we both bolted without really saying much of anything but the bare minimum to anyone. Sure, we said our thank-yous and all that. But we didn’t exchange any business cards with anyone or really get into a conversation…. I just don’t like to disrupt people who are having a good time with my awkward, half-hearted attempts to get something from them.

I was feeling clueless since the event began, anyway. I didn’t know who Al Jarreau was before I got there. And apparently, neither did the kids. Before he began to read the book, he asked the crowd of 100 small children: “Do you know who Charlie Parker is?” They responded angelically in unison: “Youuuu…”

just goes to show ya
“Formed by the tip of a submerged volcano, the island last popped up in 1831, sparking a diplomatic spat among several nations, before it sank beneath the Mediterranean waves six months later. ” — Reuters, on an island off the coast of Sicily

Humans. We think our little squabbles are soooo important. But really, our island could sink at any time.

to read
The AmeriCorps pledge may be revised to include “so help me God” … Yeah, that’s gonna go over real well with volunteers, many of whom didn’t even want to take the old, slightly less militaristic/religious oath of service.

“These are federal employees,” said David Schnittger, a spokesman for the House Education and Workforce Committee, which included the change in the Citizens’ Service Act. “If they’re going to have an oath at all, it should be in line with that used by other federal employees.”

Hey, Mr. Schnittger. S’pose we could get some sort of… I don’t know… salary in line with that given to other federal employees?

more office news
Since our new office suite is much larger than our old one, we can’t just yell across the room when we want to talk to each other. We actually have to use the intercom system that’s built into our desk phones. Trouble is, you have to know the person’s phone extension. Since we haven’t memorized them yet, our director has instituted a new plan. We will now refer to everyone by their extension number instead of their name. I’m 14. Or, as I like to be called, Agent 14.

The microwave at work has been broken for about a week. It makes a loud noise and begins to smell funny when we turn it on. But it’s opening up a whole new world of foods that can be eaten cold: Rice and beans, mashed potatoes, vegetable stew… I’m considering warming my meals on the radiator, which is giving off too much heat anyway.

overheard by the elevator
The Good Stall in the women’s bathroom on my office’s floor was mysteriously (and inconveniently) locked yesterday, from the inside. An overheard conversation explains how it got unlocked.

A: Is the Good Stall still locked?
B: *shakes head, smiling*
A (with glee): Really??
B: *nods*
A: Did you… climb?
B: I was determined not to get on the floor.
B: *nods* Up and over.
A: That’s really impressive. I would’ve liked to have seen that one.

“PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE THIS WINDOW OPEN. Pidgeons HAVE flown into this hallway before (and they are rather difficult to catch).” — sign taped to window in my office building

to read
Yesterday, I was browsing through my file of favorite readings from classes. I found a beautiful speech that seems more relevant now than ever. A 1994 speech by Vaclav Havel in Philadelphia: “In today’s multicultural world, the truly reliable path to coexistence, to peaceful coexistence and creative cooperation, must start from what is at the root of all cultures and what lies infinitely deeper in human hearts and minds than political opinion, convictions, antipathies or sympathies. It must be rooted in self-transcendence.”

oh yeah? me too!

People’s reactions to finding out that I’m from the Buffalo area:

1) Oh. Lotta snow up there.
2) Oh? Lotta snow up there?
3) Oh yeah? Me too!

I’m researching my office’s options for buying a new copy machine. One company that I spoke with invited me to their copy machine forum. Yes, a forum. It was held at a swanky hotel, with a full catered lunch. And the entire purpose was to look at their copy machines. Free food? For looking at some copy machines? I couldn’t wait to go. So I went. I petted the copiers. And then I hit the buffet. I didn’t have anyone to sit with, so I just asked another solitary woman if I could join her. “Sure,” she said.

We didn’t have a lot to say to each other, especially since she’s about 30 years older than I am. I thought our only commonality was that we were both shopping for copy machines.

I was wrong. “Where are you from?” she asked casually. “Buffalo, NY,” I said. “Oh yeah? Me too!” she said. I was shocked. But somehow not surprised. I found out that her brother owns a pizza place I used to go to all the time. And then I found out the she grew up on the West Side of Buffalo, where my dad grew up. After a few more questions, she realized she knew my family. She’s a DiRosa. I’m a Muscato. It’s that old Italian connection. In fact, she used to baby-sit for my dad’s cousins when she was 15 years old.

Life amazes me.

veterans day
On Monday, Anna, Meredith and I all felt some strange desire to celebrate Veterans Day. Why? I don’t know. But we decided to make it a real holiday and actually do something to commemorate it. Unfortunately, we decided this at about 5 pm, an hour before Meredith had to be somewhere. So we speed-walked down to the Vietnam Memorial, stopping only to take pictures of the blazing sunset. Apparently there’d been quite the crowd at the monuments that day, and a lot of people were still milling around. I noticed at least two twenty-somethings randomly chatting with older vets, getting an in-person history lesson. The wall was an amazing thing to see…. it was the first time I’d ever been there. Part of the experience definitely is walking along it as it slopes higher and higher. Suddenly you’re in over your head, looking up at a seemingly endless stream of names.