embarrassing anecdote

On plastic straw-shaming and saving the turtles.

I got plastic-straw shamed at the campus Starbucks a couple weeks ago, and I haven't felt quite that stupid in recent memory. The scene: 

I was late to a group outing with one of my teams because of a meeting I had to facilitate with another of my teams. It was hot, I was stressing, totally frazzled, and starting to get a pre-migraine aura going. Usually a healthy dose of caffeine will nip a headache before it goes full-blown migraine for me, so I braved the student union at peak coffee time. Having ordered my iced coffee with a shot of espresso, the oh-so-college, oh-so-Stanford barista turns back to me and asks, "And have you brought your own straw today?" 

Taken aback a bit (San Francisco just banned plastic straws at the beginning of the month, and the law doesn't go into effect until 2020), I shook my head and, dumbly, muttered, "Uh...no." The barista raised one eyebrow, with that perfect, intense condescension only a supercilious college student can master, and asked, "Well, would you like to buy a reusable steel straw for $2.99?" 

I was grumpy, campers. I was hot, I was anxious about how my day was shaping up, and frankly, I didn't want to carry a dripping, sticky straw with me to the food bank we were volunteering at later. So I said no, probably a little more tersely than I should have. And the barista raised the other eyebrow, overtly judging me and my hatred of the sea turtles and my lack of consideration for future generations, and turned away to make my drink...but not before muttering "wowwwww" in that perfectly under-her-breath-but-clearly-meant-to-be-heard way. And I started laughing, because how do you not laugh at something that ridiculous? 

So fast forward to this morning, where I was in desperate need of a caffeine hit en route to my off-campus office and zipped to the "nice" Starbucks with the drive-thru. Yes, I felt like a total bum getting drive-thru coffee - but some mornings, one needs to minimize human interactions before 9am, and today is one of those days. And my drink came with this weird sippy cup lid: 

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I might be the last person to find out that Starbucks is going fully strawless by 2020, and replacing the straws with these recyclable plastic lids. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for earth-saving and reduction of plastic waste and all that jazz. Today, though, as I went to take the first sip of my nitro cold brew (#millennial), it sloshed out the too-large hole on top, down the front of my white dress (because OF COURSE I was wearing a white dress). And now I'm sitting here in my office, having made my angel of an admin give me all her Tide pens, and my entire chest is wet from the emergency stain removal work I undertook...so I look like a lactating mother having serious issues, basically. 

In other words, the most Monday-ish of Mondays, and we're only a few hours in. Here's hoping there's nowhere to go from here but up...

Weird things my co-workers do in our two-stall bathroom...

The office I've been spending most of my time at lately is about five minutes from campus, a mid-seventies research park owned by Stanford that is in sore need of updates (or of a "tear it down and start over again" update, let's be honest). One of the biggest bugbears with the space is that the bathroom on the floor I work on is a two-stall situation - one with the toilet and sink and all right in the stall, and one where you wash your hands outside the stall itself - this is relevant, I promise! 

The key issue is that my workgroup is heavily dominated by females - a circumstance I definitely need to discuss further here at some point, because it's the first time in my professional life that that's ever been the case. And for a group that is at least 85% female, a two-stall situation just isn't enough. Especially when colleagues of mine take up one stall doing the weirdest things. All of these situations have happened in the nine months I've worked here, and it's gotten so hilarious and left me so incredulous that I had to document it just for shits (hahaha bathroom humor!) and giggles:  

-  Giving oneself a full blowout, complete with curling iron action

- Doing a series of sun salutations, yogic breathing and all

- Having a parent-teacher conference - flipping frequently back and forth between Mandarin and English - about one's son's poor reading performance

- Listening to a "Bachelor" podcast, without headphones, while (I presume) doing one's business

- Facetiming one's dog and dog-walker to supervise the afternoon walk of said dog

- Trying on tops that were delivered to the office rather than one's home

- Having heated debates across the two stalls about the methodology used to value digicurrency

- Painting one's nails - with a fast-drying polish, which apparently makes workplace manicures acceptable

Writing all of this down - and I'm sure I've missed a few things just out of forgetfulness - has me giggling to myself in my cube...highly necessary as I stare down the barrel of a migraine and a workday that I was convinced was Friday! Alas! Happy Thursday, campers! 

An OCD bookworm tale.

About a month-ish ago, I was having a REALLY off day. I was crabby about my body - feet covered in blood blisters from my New York escapades had kept me out of the gym for a few days. Furthermore, I was feeling disgusting after housing fully four bottles of champagne in three days, plus drinking all over the city. I was exhausted - 2am bedtimes, hotel sleep, sharing a bed, and going like a crazy person for days at a time had burned me out. I was irritated with just about everyone in my life - near or far. So I decided, spur of the moment, to rearrange my bookshelves. 

This may sound like a completely random, absurd action to take in an attempt to soothe myself, but consider the source. One of my absolute favorite parts of moving - one of the actions I have to take before a place feels like home - is to organize my books. When I moved to California, my initial quote was something like $3000, based on the phone consultation with my moving company. Upon seeing my Minneapolis apartment, the mover adjusted his estimate up by almost a thousand dollars. Dismayed, I asked why, and his explanation? "Well, ma'am, you've got...a lot of books. And my guys? They don't like moving books." I eventually negotiated the quote back down...but only if I agreed to move my books myself, in my car. This required paring down my cherished collection by almost half, and even then it was a tight squeeze to get them in the car with our suitcases and the plethora of other paraphernalia I had to fit. (I believe my mom's quote was "You can get to California with clothes and fewer books, or you can get to California with all your books but be naked til the movers come." OH JODES.) Anyway, I digress - moral of the story: for me, books are home, plain and simple. 

I am extraordinarily specific about how my books must be organized. Up until that crisis night a month ago, it was, inflexibly, "alphabetically by author's last name." I am a voracious re-reader, and knowing where to find my favorites (Austen in the top left corner cuddling up to the Brontes, Graham Greene hanging out by Hemingway with Ibbotson close by, and my growing J. Courtney Sullivan collection looking down on Meg Wolitzer from a shelf above) is critical for my happiness. Accordingly, making the shift to rearrange my bookshelves was reflective of just how unsettled and angsty I felt in every other arena. 

How, though, to rearrange? I stood in front of the shelves for a solid ten-ish minutes, debating the merits of "time period" or "alphabetically by title" or "genre" or "Dewey Decimal" while Dave looked at me like I was an actual crazy person. I dove in and eventually settled on "by spine color." BY SPINE COLOR? WHAT WAS I THINKING? I honestly feel as though I suffered some sort of miniature breakdown or psychotic dissociation that led to this completely asinine decision. But by the time I realized I was NOT pleased, I was midway through, deep in reflection of just how many blue-spined books I own. And at that point, it felt too late to turn back and start over, so I persevered, bitching all the while about how stupid it was to let Pinterest aspirations overcome plain old-fashioned good sense. 

And there you have it - the finished product. (Well, most of it - the second shelf is still only half-full because of how few books I could bring to California with me, and it's all the black spines, so...eh.) I stood back, I looked at them, and I decided I loathed it. But I left it, confident that it would grow on me. 

Then, last week, I flew through Marisa de los Santos's transcendently lovely "I'll Be Your Blue Sky," and suddenly, fundamentally needed to re-read everything she had ever written. So I went to find her first novel last night before dinner with Kaitlin, thinking it'd be a perfect post-meal wind-down before bed. Problem? I couldn't find it. Campers, I freaked. Not like...externally. But internally? I was a spastic, stressed frazzle of a human. And right then and there, with about an hour until I needed to leave for dinner, I pulled every book back off the shelf, and spent the most relaxing, satisfying forty minutes of my life restoring order in this specific little corner of my universe. 

I guess the lesson learned here is simply to not mess with a good thing. Also that I am fully actually insane, but let's be real...we already knew that. 

The Girl Scout cookie conundrum

Welp, so much for writing daily in February, hahaha. Oh well - Rome wasn't built in a day, nor was writer's block overcome in a minute. 

You guys, I'm in a quandary. I've been trying so hard so far this year to eat better and to exercise - yoga twice a week, Pilates, lots of homemade paleo lunches and dinners up the wazoo - but I'm in crisis mode. It's Girl Scout cookie season, and the Girl Scouts of Redwood City, CA, have it figured out. 

Our local Safeway is my go-to for meal prep runs, and I tend to pop in there at least two or three times a week. (Aside: I am aware that this is an ineffective, time-wasting way to do my grocery shopping, but I don't care - it still beats ordering takeout, so there.) The place is generally a zoo, and always seems to be understaffed for the number of people who are flowing through on a daily basis. Going there is an experience that, by nature, leaves me a bit stressed out and spastic from time to time. 

And now, every time I want to go in Safeway, I have to run the gauntlet of adorable Girl Scouts who stand outside hawking their devil cookies. Turns out this is a thing here - they get to set up a cute little table or two, with homemade, hand-lettered signs in their wobbly little bubble letters, and stacked with their cookies. They all show up in their uniforms, with their missing front teeth and their little high pitched voices, and ask you "Excuse me miss, would you like to buy some cookies today?" 

I AM POWERLESS TO RESIST cute children being cute. Always have been, always will be. I am even more powerless to resist cute children trying to sell me things. I once went to the bank before going home from Target because the neighbor kids had a lemonade stand and I didn't have cash to buy anything from them. The Girl Scouts are my kryptonite. Couple their adorableness with how freaking good frozen Thin Mints are (don't even START me on Samoas), and I'm a dead woman walking. 

So I fell victim, the first time, about two weeks ago. I couldn't help it, the little Brownie kiddos were so cute - so I bought a box of Thin Mints and brought them into work, and left them in the break room, taking three for myself as a reward for not eating the whole box. Then it happened again. This time, they were older Girl Scouts, and I felt bad for them because, while nobody can resist a precious little first-grader, it's a lot easier to ignore the older girls. So I got Samoas this time, and did the same thing. 

Then on Sunday it happened AGAIN, and now it's starting to get ridiculous. My key mistake this time was accidentally making eye contact with one of them - once you've established eye contact with a Girl Scout, all is lost. And THEN her mother made eye contact with me, and I crumbled faster than the Vikings defense against the Eagles in the NFC championship. I bought a kind I don't even like so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat them, and the cute little Girl Scout made change (with the aforementioned mom's help), and I went on my way, kind of frustrated and also kind of gratified and mostly just stressed out by the whole experience. 

Thing is - Girl Scout cookie season isn't like a short little one-week thing anymore. I feel like it's been going on forever, and we're barely into February right now. Couple that with the fact that they've definitely raised the prices a lot since I was a Girl Scout ...they're like $5 a box here, and I'm pretty sure we sold them for around $2 back in the nineties (god, I'm old and lame). Anyway, this is going to be a very expensive guilty weakness for me if this keeps up - either I'm going to have to grow a thicker skin, or I'm going to have to stop going to Safeway altogether at the rate we're going. 

In the meantime, if anyone actually likes Savannah Smiles, there's a box of them sitting in my car with your name on it. Send help - you'll find me desperately seeking courage in the parking lot of the local grocery store. 

Champagne and Novocaine: a festive and cautionary tale

If you’ve known me as a drinking adult for more than maybe two weeks, you are more likely than not aware of the fact that champagne is my alcoholic beverage of choice. Gin, yes, love. Wine, sure…great. I’ll drink beer at taprooms or for drinking games. But champagne, and anything else of a sparkling ilk, is my favorite.

Well, this weekend, champagne fought back and almost won.

Friends Alex and Rachel, and Alex’s wife Laura, host a giant Third of July party annually at Alex and Rachel’s parents’ lake home, and this year my little brother Jonny and I attended. Things are seldom tame with this social circle, and it’s rare to leave a weekend without some crazy war story. It’s just that usually I’m not the one in the story…

...which, to sum it up briefly and with as little embarrassment as possible, involves my face meeting the bottom of a champagne bottle at high velocity due to an ill-timed slip by Jonny. Three of my front teeth got cracked in half, I bit through a chunk of my bottom lip and lacerated the inside of my top lip, and my gums/mouth in general were bruised up. First thought through my head, post blunt trauma to the mouth? I felt the champagne bottle hit my foot on the bottom of the lake and immediately thought, “I wonder if I could still save it…” PRIORITIES, FRIENDS. Then I realized that I was missing more teeth than a jack-o-lantern, freaked out, and left the party in tears/gushing blood/spitting out tiny tooth fragments.

Fortunately, we’ve been going to the same dentist for years, and he was kind enough to answer my multiple panicked, incoherent phone calls and come open the Lakeville office to do an emergency repair. Picture this, if you will: I’m fairly drunk in yoga pants and a sweatshirt over a wet swimsuit, my dad is in grilling clothes (having abandoned his/my mom’s planned rib dinner to drive me over to the dentist), and Dr. Mike is legit wearing swim trunks and a bro tank, having abandoned HIS grilled shrimp to come fix my shattered mouth. Hilarity ensued, partially at my expense.

He got me fixed up after I stopped trying to tough it out without Novocaine and sent me on my way, with teeth that you could barely tell had just been extensively repaired. Stop 1 was heading back to our house to eat basically four bites of pasta salad with my swollen, numb face. Stop 2, however, was to head right back to the party, with Jonathan and two bottles of champagne in tow. The way I see it is as follows: they tell you that if you fall off a horse, you have to get right back on it. Similarly, the fact that a champagne bottle blasted out half my front teeth simply ensured I had to show champagne who’s boss…by drinking it straight from the bottle for the rest of the evening.

So there you have it…a day that started with champagne could’ve ended with Novocaine, but in classic Schwegman fashion, was totally saved. Even though I have a little more reconstruction to deal with (appointment this afternoon, woo!), it’s already crossed the brightline from “horrific and traumatizing incident” to “Schwegfam hilarious anecdote for all time.” Lesson learned though: next Fourth of July, I’ll be sticking with Solo cups.