payelisfreakingout

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Portland is for lovers

On our third day in Portland, the weather finally showed some mercy. Temperature in the fifties is rough for an Arizona gal, so even the 85 degree Portland air called for a jacket. I bundled up in the backseat of Shaili’s Prius as we drove to Portland State University for their weekend farmer’s market. Portland roads are relatively easy to navigate. I mean, if I’m being honest, nothing compares to Arizona highways, but Portland isn’t bad. Once we got there, we noticed the PSU brickyard buildings standing in sharp contrast to its green-leafed neighbors. Little clusters of (what I assume were) students walked around the beautiful campus. There were multicolored leaflets for various events caked on every visible post.

Of course, with all this novelty around us, we all failed to notice a couple walking in front of us, and we almost hit them. Luckily, we stopped quickly, veered forward, and instantly put our palms up and wore apologies on our faces. To my surprise, the lady in front of us did the same. She smiled generously, eyebrows prodded upwards. You could tell she was slightly chuckling. She was completely unfazed. And I think that was my biggest takeaway from the Portland trip. Everyone was so incredibly nice and sweet. There was an incredible amount of hospitality and kindness I felt there. Portland truly is for lovers!

An Annoyingly Serious Rant for Guy from Work

The discussion I overheard today teemed with undertones of ill-informed, oversimplified, cheap heady arguments about mass shootings and muslims. Politics or not, perception is important—critical even. Policy cannot be implemented without a multi-dimensional understanding of the situation and the groups affected. Your ignorance wraps around my head as my INFP personality wrestles to see your point of view. Because the line between what’s appropriate to say at work and what’s worth saying at work regardless of whether or not I lose my job is still blurry, I kept mum. However, my rebuttal sat impatient at the tip of my tongue. I sat in my cubicle, reading article after article, thinkpiece after thinkpiece, hoping your ignorance is not nearly as pervasive and ubiquitous as I fear.

It seems that the world around you has diversified yet, clearly, you’ve made no attempt to leave your white-coated cave of privilege. So bye.

The Mac and Cheese at Lux

On Thursday, I decide to sneak out 15 minutes early from work to go to this ultra hip coffee bar called Lux in the hub of uptown Phoenix. It’s a strange amalgamation of bar, study room, lounge, patio stitched together to form a center for a particular strand of people. This becomes glaringly evident the moment I walk into the bar. I can’t help but get an uncanny feeling that I am being judged by the more elevated Lux constituents as I wade through them. But, I don’t think too much of it because I need to figure out the optimal place to situate myself in before I gorge on their delicious jalapeño mac and cheese—a luxury I partake in conservatively. After a few seconds of internal debate, I choose the study room.

A gaggle of grinless girls block the awkwardly constricted hallway that leads to the expansive lounge and the tucked-away black study room. I whimper a weak, “Excuse me”. Of course, that yields no results. I nudge my way through them, knocking over a container of one of their freshest ingredients: the tomato. I groan at my clumsiness but also at their lack of storage space (or so it seems). Which coked-up dumbass thought it was a good idea to fill this tight, narrow passage with containers that the employees will need to continually retrieve throughout their day when they know that many a big-hipped lady—like myself—will have to traverse this obstacle course of poorly-assembled, precarious container tower? I remain paralyzed for a brief second, fighting the urge to just pretend I didn’t notice anything and continue on. But I know better than to do that, and also the girls are now staring at me. I pick up the closed container and place it atop the box with other fresh ingredients. Still recuperating from that gaffe, I prematurely choose to sit down at the first table I come across in the black room to draw as little attention to myself as I can. But everyone is busy boring their eyes into their MacBooks, so it really doesn’t matter. I relocate to a corner table and take out my wallet in preparation to go order myself that delicious mac and cheese I have come here for.

As I walk back through the semi-winding path to the counter, I realize just how much I hate this place. This is the place where typewriters are appropriated as table accessories and Pepto Bismol pink is pushed to its artistic limits. This is the place where mid-century decorations come to prosper amidst its more contemporary counterparts placed (methodically) sparingly. This is the place where white girls with dreads can roam with reckless abandon. This is the place where bangs come to permanently rest mid-forehead, unkempt beards come to grow ceaselessly, and thick, shaped eyebrows come to flourish. This is the place where smiles come to die. My barista, especially, looks dead inside.

“I’m sorry. We’re not taking any food orders for another five minutes. But I can do a drink order.” Are you fucking kidding me!? “Bullshit!!!” I scream internally. “Yeah sure. No problem. I’ll just do an iced coffee for now then.” God, I hate their coffee. I really just came for the food, but I felt obligated. Should I just stand there for the five minutes? Because by the time I make my way through that cramped-ass hallway and into the back of the cramped-ass room I had situated myself in, it will probably be time to retrace my steps to order that fucking mac and cheese. Yet, standing there for even one more solitary minute seems akin to opening a can of doldrums, which I can definitely do without. So, I go sit back down and indulge myself in a few episodes of The Daily Show. I order my mac and cheese at an appropriate time after my first order. Now, we wait.

“Ray?” hails a tall, thin woman with billowy blond hair as she prances from one room to the next. I reluctantly raise my hand once she reaches the black room and say, “here,” unsure as to how to properly respond to this super alt food-serving system. In seconds, a large, searing, brown bowl brimming with cheesy, unctuous, goopy goodness greets me. I am advised to heed caution when touching the bowl since it’s very hot. I roll my eyes and swiftly break off the molten, wax-like cheese sticking to the side of the bowl. Wasting no time, I grab the fork, and sink it into the creamy glob of pasta. This jalapeño mac and cheese is tantric. I relish the first bite and hold off for what seems like hours. I don’t want to finish it within minutes. I want to savor every gorgeous bite, so I take to wistfully staring at my bowl. Pieces of jalapeños peak their heads out through the perforations in the simmering orange blanket of cheddar cheese, goading me to eat them. So, I eat them. I do, in fact, finish within minutes — 7 minutes to be exact. I have scalded my tongue, but I really don’t care.

Peals of laughter intercept the murmurs in the black room and my euphoric state. I look down at my clean bowl and push it aside. I close my laptop, not even remembering what I was working on (if I was even working on anything). I check my phone. No updates. Whatever. Don’t care. I confidently sling my bag around my shoulder, push in my chair, and make my way out of this hideously hip coffee bar. My work here is done.

Notes from The Desk

Co-intern #1 continues to find jarring errors that would have, otherwise, cost the company thousands of dollars and, in turn, becomes the buzz of the office. I leisurely admire how I’ve managed to grow out my nails.

Co-intern #2 exhausts himself over his board that he has been working on for weeks. I sit here at my desk surreptitiously picking my nose.

Co-intern #1 scurries back and forth between the lab and her desk, safety goggles askew. I sit at my desk, wondering for how much longer I can maintain this façade of productivity.

Co-intern #2 highlights important shit in important documents. I successfully convert my employee badge that hangs around my neck into a bolo tie.

Co-intern #1 finishes her presentation before anyone else’s and receives outstanding feedback from her supervisor. I contemplate trying the fancy coffee machine in the break room that offers “chocolate with milk” since it was finally fixed yesterday.

Co-intern #2 leaves early because he feels ill (probably from working so feverishly over his board). I decide to skip the “chocolate with milk” since I don’t see an unused cup on the counter and am too lazy to bend over and check the cupboards underneath.

Co-intern #1 earns the right to leave early by her boss because she has finished her tasks well ahead of time. I finally take initiative and contribute to the company by informing my fellow colleagues that the second bathroom stall is best for pooping in via a post-it note PSA.

A Typical Wednesday

My alarm first rings at 5:30 AM. I don’t particularly recall hitting the snooze button, but I must have since my alarm continues to ring in 8-minute intervals. Even then, I slumber on. The next alarm rings at 6:00. Again, I snooze, creating another set of ripple in the horrific alarm sequence. I finally wake to what I think is my alarm but is actually my ringtone. It’s my boyfriend, Matt. We had planned on getting coffee at 7:00 at Cartel, and it is already 6:30. I haphazardly stumble out of bed as the sweet tunes of Jack Johnson continue to play through my headphones, trying to croon me back into bed. With all my courage, I ignore the desperate calls, and like an imp, I scurry into the bathroom to begin my morning rituals.

It’s far too late to poop, so I decide to skip that. I know I will regret it once the coffee hits me, but I procrastinate on everything, including my bowel movements. I like to think my body has toughened up at this point, and I’ve become immune to all the irregularities I put it through, but I’m probably wrong (please advise). I start brushing my teeth, and immediately feel a gnawing pain in my gum. I appoint it to my wisdom teeth and choose to ignore it. Instead, I focus on my face. My eyes look puffy, my nose looks rounder and shinier, my lips are swollen, and my chin looks nonexistent as it has blended in with my neck. I turn my face to the side to observe and analyze further. Yup. My jawline has definitely ceased to exist. Whatever. Not a big deal. Clearly, it’s time to put on make-up and make the most of this face. Luckily, I didn’t take my make-up off yesterday, so the faint outline of my eyeliner helps guide me today. I contemplate putting on the new foundation I received from my Birchbox when I notice a tiny, sticky, little booger bashfully clinging onto my nose ring. I try to exhale in short bursts, but to no avail. I resort to using the proper protocol to remove the little bugger.

I study my hair. Lanky, lifeless, greasy strands occupy my head and rest just below my boobs. The teal bits are fading into a lovely vomit green (Somehow, pastel had made the impressive leap from being Easter-exclusive to becoming a hipster staple. I, too, had wanted to jump on this bandwagon, but I’m not a risk taker so I settled for teal, which is clearly proving to be a terrible choice). Thankfully, my work doesn’t care if its employees have ugly hair. Yet, still, I want to try and execute some semblance of a hairdo. I go through my options. If I put my hair up in a bun, I would pull all focus to my chin (or lack thereof). A man bun, on the other hand, would be fashionable and utilitarian, but they never stay intact for longer than five minutes. And I couldn’t find my butterfly clip to pull some of it back to look a bit professional. I decide to just keep it casual (read: messy).

Because I am incompetent at doing my laundry on time, I slip on my go-to professional slacks that I have been wearing for the past two weeks. I search for a freshly laundered shirt to compensate for my lack of effort in the pants department. After a full two minutes, I give up. My theory that a cardigan can make anything look professional prevails as I put my black cardigan over my otherwise work-inappropriate cropped tank top. I don’t even bother to look at the mirror. I grab my laptop bag and rush downstairs.

Since I’m living with my parents at the moment, I have been enjoying the luxury of always finding good food in the fridge. I heap spoonfuls of white rice into a rectangular Tupperware bowl. Then I squish it to the side to make room for the coconut chicken curry my mom made. Shit. A cinnamon stick falls in. But I’m too lazy to do anything about it, so I let it sit on top of the rice and curry mix like a garnish that represents my shitty work ethic. I lick the spoon and drop it into the sink. Another luxury I have been enjoying is that I no longer have to do the dishes because I was raised as a spoiled brat. I frantically put the lid on my bowl and head out.

While I’m driving, I call Matt to see whether I’m running late. I also want to see if I have time to buy myself a fruit. The beer I drank last night left my body feeling parched this morning, and coffee will only make me more dehydrated. Matt offers to buy me a yogurt or a vanilla macaron since he’s still driving when I arrive to Cartel. I make a regretfully idiotic decision and choose the yogurt.

The weather is especially nice today. Luscious, fluffy clouds hoisted on a gray sky, mildly warm air, and just slightly humid. We decide to drink our cold brew and eat our breakfast outside. As we find a table, Matt points out my obsession with twirling my hair. At first, I think that he’s pointing out one of my many cute, quirky traits, but then I realize that he’s probably telling me it’s disgusting because when I look down I find strands of my hair decorating the table we had just sat down to eat at. I brush them away and resolve to put my hair up in a bun.

I acutely investigate the Starbucks yogurt cup, top to bottom: berries, granola, greek yogurt, honey. Besides the honey and the yogurt, everything is compartmentalized in individual containers. I open the cup to find that there is very little yogurt. In fact, all the proportions seem to be intended for a four-year-old child who probably hates yogurt and berries. There are maybe five blueberries and exactly three slices of strawberries (equating to 1.5 strawberries) in the berries container. If anything, the granola chunks are overcompensating for its insufficient counterparts.

My hungry stomach directs me to dig into the yogurt, but I abruptly stop when my spoon hits the bottom of the cup faster and swifter than I had imagined it would. I internally squirm at the unusually low viscosity of the honey. Trying to shrug it off, I quickly mix the liquid honey with the thicker greek yogurt because I do not want to deal with the honey as a separate entity any longer than I need to. I pour in my berries and granola, mix a little, and then ravenously devour the concoction. I don’t even stop to relish the 1.5 strawberries Starbucks had generously given me.

Matt’s need to poop dictates the end of our little morning rendezvous, and we part ways. I speed-drive to work and am just shy of being two hours late. After a shitty parallel parking attempt, I run to the gate to scan my card and head into the office. I heave up the single flight of stairs and am exhausted by the time I finally reach my desk. I drop my shit at my desk and head over to the bathroom to pee. On the way, I sneak a glance through the narrow window slit and fantasize about all the things I’m probably missing out on due to this insufferable job.

I break work into four chunks of two-hour periods, each punctuated with either a bathroom break or water bottle refill or sometimes both. I begin my day by checking my email. Today, I have a single new email about a specialty food truck selling gourmet quesadillas that will be stopping by this Friday—something to look forward to. Although, I plan on finishing the tasks that were assigned to me last week, I streamline my attention to the riveting conversation about tacos that I am engaged in with my best friend, Antora, who is currently interning in New York. I text her: “Did you get tacos?” I eagerly await her response.

The second chunk of work starts off with lunch, which I am always looking forward to. I take out the bowl from my lunch bag and am thoroughly disappointed. My rice to curry ratio is extremely off. Sourly, I begin eating globs of white rice. Desperately trying to avoid work, I open up a word doc to document my Wednesday. This smoothly transitions me into the third chunk of work, which conveniently includes a one-hour meeting. I had promised my supervisor that I would finally go into the software lab to simulate my code after the meeting, so I feel pangs of anxiety as I sit through the meeting. Thankfully, my other supervisor tell me we need to finish my evaluations, and I sneakily drag that excuse to the end of work day. I am only slightly ashamed.

I revisit Cartel on my way back from home and get discounted coffee this time. I sit there for a little bit to wade through the mental gunk but get distracted by the booming music and my incessant need to eavesdrop on the loud crowds around me. Finally, crippling hunger forces me to drive home where I retire my professional clothes, gorge on all the coconut chicken curry and finally take the first shower of the week.

There are still a few more hours of Wednesday left, but I need to catch up on Mr. Robot. So, I will probably procrastinate on everything else on my current to-do list.

Dear Corporate Internship

We’ve only been together for two months now, but I have grown fond of you. I know that I am only an underling in your fabulous open relationship and that you have many a corporate cretin within the confines of your dull receptacle who would do a lot more for you than I. But whatever we have is special to me, and I imagine it is for you as well. You are an angel, an easygoing, nonchalant, slightly monotonous angel. You don’t care when I come into work. In fact, you are probably amused by my inconsistency because it sets me apart from the others. You also probably don’t mind that I spontaneously take days off with little to no notice. I’m playing hard to get. It keeps you on your toes. And the fact that I spend my days here reading articles, formatting papers, and doodling on the office notepads (basically everything except my actual task) is probably refreshing to you in your otherwise mundane and scheduled life. But don’t get me wrong. Despite rarely doing what I’m supposed to be doing, I love working here.

I love how you always keep an abundance of shitty coffee in the break room that I accidentally keep convincing myself to try again. I love how you waft delicious, juicy smells around my cubicle during lunchtime as I sit there chewing on my fetid, rubber-y Starbucks panini. I love how easy you make it to eavesdrop on my colleagues’ stories about their impressive jujitsu lessons, their unfathomable children, and, if I’m especially lucky, their children’s jujitsu lessons. Trust me. You know how to make a woman happy.

Last week you asked if I wanted to stay with you throughout the fall, and I happily rejoiced. Today, you asked me if I would consider a full-time position here, and now I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Things are moving too fast. Your insufferable demands preclude me from enjoying my free-spirited life, which include day drinking beer, writing nonsense, and updating my twitter bio.

So, let’s just chalk it up to a summer fling, a short and civil courtship, maybe even a blissful mistake.

Don’t worry. I will never forget my firsts with you, like the first time I pooped in your bathroom (your flush system is weak, bro) or the first time I stole a pen from your supply closet (actually, I stole a few other office supplies too) or the first time I went to a “stand-up” meeting (those are slated to run five minutes, but you insisted on keeping us standing for a full 30 minutes).

Anyway, I’ve had a really great time, and you will be sorely missed. But don’t fret. I’m confident that there will be many more motivated, type-A, experience-seeking students in the upcoming years to fill the gaping hole that I have undoubtedly left in your heart. Best of luck!

Love,
Payel

How to Help Your Boyfriend Foray into the World of Bollywood*

Note: Make sure to consume a copious amount of spicy Indian food prior to beginning your Bollywood journey. This will help set the mood and also provide you with the best excuse for when you feel the need to leave during a cringe-worthy scene.

Start your adventure with one of the most drawn-out, melodramatic, and emblematic movies of the century: Kabhi Khushi, Kabhi Gham (which will henceforth be referred to as K3G). Rather than simply allowing him to get his feet a little wet, you’re basically pushing him into the deep, deep end of the pool. A movie that literally stands for “sometimes joy, sometimes sorrow” and directed by Bollywood’s favorite writer-director double-threat, Karan Johar, K3G is bound to get your boyfriend appropriately wet (metaphorically and literally). K3G has all the right elements that you would want him to initially be exposed to. Jam-packed with extravagant singing and dancing sequences, heavy doses of nationalistic pride and adherence to tradition, and a smattering of good-natured, over-the-top humor capable of inducing second-hand embarrassment, K3G promises to deliver the most ideal, sought-after Bollywood experience. It also helps to watch K3G with a seasoned Bollywood-watching veteran to dissipate the incomprehensibly awkward scenes. Allow your boyfriend to bask in the glory of your exchange with aforementioned veteran as you two ceaselessly make fun of each and every scene and reminisce about the last time you two watched it back in 2004. There is a good chance that it will take him two days to finish watching the movie due to its sheer longevity. Note that it only mildly detracts from the overall effect the movie tries to achieve, so be understanding of your boyfriend’s short attention span. He can only improve from here. If, at the end of the viewing, he is thoroughly overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by the grandiosity of the movie, abort mission immediately and watch something far less dramatic like Mission Impossible or Bourne Ultimatum. Passive aggressively, but adorably, wrinkle your nose at him from afar at his unfortunate taste in movies. If, on the other hand, he is actually able to withstand the entirety of the movie, then you may proceed and immerse him in more Bollywood movies. But be prepared for the busts that you will inevitably encounter.

Because you have doused him with an adequate amount of Bollywood culture, he can establish a healthy set of expectations for the next movie you two will watch. You can now deviate from the stereotypical Bollywood musicals and introduce him to something a bit more plot-heavy and contemporary. Try Piku, a movie that follows a quirky female protagonist and her hypochondriac father. It focuses on their fraught relationship as she struggles to meet her father’s outrageous needs and find success in her profession as an architect as well as in her love life. Laced with deep feminist undertones, the movie prods at the more serious concepts of duty and obligation while maintaining a buoyantly comedic tone. The movie has all the necessary parts to make it into your boyfriend’s Top Five list. However, he will undoubtedly find himself frustrated when he unsuccessfully struggles to keep up with the subtitles during the scenes in which the characters argue endlessly. He has just witnessed first-hand the folly of watching a Bollywood movie as a foreigner. Console him and tell him that it gets better.

Luckily, Netflix provides an array of Bollywood movies that you two can leisurely binge-watch. This will help him get further acquainted with the art of subtitle-reading and will help you embed those dramatic dialogues to memory for future use. Watch Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a picturesque movie shot in Spain with an abundance of beautiful men and women seen flocking around in the backdrop of every scene. The movie focuses on a rich man’s get-away, bachelor trip with his two, equally rich best friends. Your boyfriend has to love a movie about three guys, right? There’s so much he can relate to.

The best thing about Bollywood movies is that one well-picked movie can become the perfect gateway into the Bollywood universe. Venturing forth is easy after that point. Movies will cast a variety of actors and actresses, most of whom your boyfriend will have already encountered in a previous movie. Like a poorly defined recursive function, the Bollywood universe will entrap your boyfriend as he continues to fall into the depths of its dark, cold pit. After a point, you will have to seriously consider taking a break. If ever you hear him attempting to sing Hindi songs or muttering Hindi catchphrases under his breath, note that you have just witnessed symptoms of withdrawal. You will need to carefully monitor his intake of Bollywood culture.

As you continue your consumption of this uniquely wonderful medium with your boyfriend, revel in the fact that you were successful in helping him become dangerously addicted to a set of foreign movies, which are exorbitantly filled with catchy songs, colorful dance numbers, wildly exaggerated themes, and gorgeous, fair-skinned characters. This is the only representation India needs.

*This post is intended for those whose boyfriends are not already obsessively addicted to Bollywood movies. If your boyfriend is, then you are obviously doing everything right.