A Story of Lunch Breaks

This is how my office life works.

I get in precisely 13 minutes late every morning (a mix of unfortunate company shuttle timetables and my need to press snooze exactly six times before I finally crawl out of bed, don’t ask). I throw my backpack under the desk, then run to my supposedly super-duper-secure-but-I-suspect-it’s-made-of-recycled-cardboard locker to get my laptop. Yes, we all dutifully lock our laptops, magic mice, broken staplers and strawberry scented hand lotions before we leave the place in the evening. It’s company policy they say, though I suspect it’s exclusively based on everybody’s reluctance to leave their belongings unguarded when there’s a sticky-fingers Romanian (yours truly!) roaming free on the premises.

Valuable hardware finally plugged in and my hands freshly covered in strawberry flavoured pomade, I eventually deign to go over my inbox, check the outpour of life changing stuff people are posting on Facebook, and dive into the ever informative online tabloids. I know, I know, I’m not the psycho-hard-working bumblebee you all fantasized I was??? Oh, the horror!

The truth is that my super duper exciting project has recently been finalized and delivered. And yes, it’s been crazy hard work and I’ve had my someone-please-bludgeon-me-with-my-keyboard moments throughout, but that doesn’t really explain why these days everybody seems to think that I deserve a bit of a break, and they haven’t given me anything new to sink my teeth into. So recently, my day to day geeky adventures in the office have made room for endless, soul-wrenching, pure boredom.

By 10:15 in the morning, I’m already bored out of my mind and looking forward to the few distractions of the day: slow paced trips to the water cooler, a minor bug getting everybody deliciously frantic for half a second or so  (talking about website bugs here, people, no self respecting insect would waste its time buzzing around our bore of an office!), and lunch breaks.

Lunch break is when I get to walk out of the building and stroll down the parking lot for a minute long, car fume flavoured trip to the office canteen. People walk around said parking lot carrying piping hot plates and sharp cutlery back to their screen topped desks (why eat with others in a purposely designed, food spillage friendly space, when you can rush back and stuff yourself in front of your Facebook feed?), you run into really fit looking fellows, plates filled with mountains of mayonnaise drenched chips and end up hating your leaf-eating-yet-somehow-still-fatty self, it’s wonderful.

Now, this repetitive, tasty, it-finally-feels-like-I’m-doing-something-even-if-it’s-only-chewing canteen adventure would be the happiest time of my day, except for the fact that the entire staff, most of my fellow eaters, and I suspect the canteen furniture as well, hate my guts.

It’s not even my fault, you know. I’m a no fuss, always-chew-with-your-mouth-shut kind of gal. But I’ve had the bad luck of going to lunch accompanied by absolutely crazy people, and I’m now being labeled crazy myself by association.

Take Paul for example. Now, he may be one of my regular fellow lunch buddies, but he really shouldn’t be allowed to eat in public places. And I’m not talking about a fun and games, informal interdiction. Nope. There should be a law, an actual law preventing Paul from ordering and consuming food outside of his own kitchen.

He’s the kind of person who will take half an hour to order a burger. Remember Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally? (most of you are probably to young for that reference, but anyway) Well, Paul is psycho Meg Ryan times six when it comes to ordering food. He needs all beansprouts picked out of his stir fry with special tweezers, and dutifully disposed of in a perfectly sealed, ozone layer friendly container. He needs his onion rings to be precisely 1.4 inches in diameter and to be fried into perfection until they’ve reached the one and only acceptable onion ring color, GoldenRod, or, for geeky Web Design connoisseurs like himself, #DAA520. His chips need in no circumstances touch his peas, and would ideally be imported from different continents and cooked in separate kitchens, in Evian water held at room temperature sixteen days in advance. Well, you get the picture. Every. Chef’s. Nightmare.

My other lunch partner is David. Now David, he may look like a regular guy from afar, but he is the clumsiest, most dangerous to society and to himself person you’ll ever meet. He must have dropped and smashed at least a dozen plates in the few months we’ve been having lunch together. He leaned over the soup bar (to better inhale the flavours, of course!), and his glasses fell off his nose and into the soup pot. Twice! Have you ever tried dragging around the tallest, most badly coordinated human being? Through a cramped canteen during lunch hour rush? While his glasses are covered in steaming tomato soup? No piece of cake, I tell you.

Apart from the soup incidents though, David has had a plethora of cutlery induced burns, cuts and bruises, and just a couple of weeks back he stumbled over his own two feet and fell against the open salad bar, smashing the glass panel above it  to pieces and making the entire canteen unusable for the rest of the day. No one really cares for food and a side of glass chips, thank you very much.

Now, thankfully, David’s managed not to kill anybody, or himself (yet!), and Paul has still got a bit to go until he turns the staff and fellow queuers completely suicidal, but my association with them crazy people has definitely affected my previously immaculate canteen status.

I walk in, the calm before the storm, the bearer of bad tidings. They hide the knives, bring out the first aid kits, the super absorbant kitchen towels, light a bunch of zen friendly incense sticks and start praying for strength. They give me the stink-eye, of course, and the smallest, greasiest portions, which is fair enough I suppose.

Always super duper, glass-half-full optimistic as you know me, I’m hoping all this will shape me into a stronger (and slimmer!) version of myself, so I have yet to dump my reliably psychotic lunch partners and try solo eating. Am I a good friend or what?

Lunch was rather miraculously uneventful today, but David and I are off to the cash machines soon, so if I don’t post anything in the next couple of days, he’s probably gotten us both kidnapped and/or dismembered. In which case I’d better take this opportunity and wish you all Easter celebrating people Happy Holidays, and everybody else a lovely, sunny, mishap free weekend!

Five Pounds and The End of All Good Things

If I could travel back to a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t choose to do anything extraordinary for the good of humanity, like warn the Sochi people about their fifth Olympic circle, or urge Leo to ditch the Oscars night and hit the bars instead. Nope, I’d rather rush to meet my super duper hot former self, only to grab the bag of crisps out of her hand and give her a good slap.

This needs to stop, I’d tell her. It needs to stop now or you’ll end up like me. She’d then have a good look at her chubby future self, understand the enormity of the tragedy looming over her sexy figure, and never touch a crisp again.

Believe it or not, time machines are not easy to come by these days. And I probably wouldn’t fit in one anyway. Because guess what, I’ve gained not one, not two, but FIVE pounds since autumn of 2013. Of course I could pretend I have no idea how this came to happen, and conveniently blame it on my super duper stressful let’s-call-it-career-but-we-know-it’s-a-joke or my stupid aging cells, but I’d rather be fat than fat and kidding myself. So as I was facing the evil digits on my scale screen the other day, I decided something needed to change. I mean, it’s been hard enough being short as a bar stool all my life. Now I’m turning into an over-sized beanbag, and it’s really not the sexiest of looks.

So this week has been interesting. Interestingly tasteless.

I’ve given up each and every food my will to live has so far depended on. I’d have replaced everything in our fridge with tons of leafy, super-scrumptious-in-theory things some of which I’ve rarely tried before, if V. hadn’t fought me tooth and nail to keep his yummy half of the fridge intact. Who would have thought crossing fridge boundaries was such a relationship no no. So now every time I open it to get myself a helping of chopped greens or my I-call-it-desert-but-it’s-just-a-carrot-and-it-makes-me-so-sad, I face the colors and smells of countless temptations crammed into his half of the fridge. Not to mention that, in truly brilliant fashion, I also unknowingly started on my diet from hell on the eve Pancake Day, and have been dreaming of sledding down mountains of pancakes every night since. Fun and games.

It’s not all bad. It’s true, I think I may just be developing allergic reactions to spinach and broccoli, but I’m sure I’ll lose the extra pounds in, like, a day and a half at most, and then I’ll be free to stuff myself with pancakes for 24 hours straight. That’s how this works, right? Tell me that’s how this works!

That’s right, ignore my cries for mercy and go back to chomping your tasty forbidden snacks, I’ve brought this onto myself after all. I’ll try to keep the dieting up for as long as it takes/I can, and though I’ll try to document it throughout, I might miss a post or two due to carrot binge eating sessions or fighting through terrible bouts of Doritos withdrawal.

I’m off now, it’s just about lunch time here in Spinach Land, and there’s a lovely leafy casserole with my name on it in the office fridge. YUM!

Every Day is Cake Day

One of the perks of sharing an open plan office with 80 strangers and their annoying iPhone ringtones, is the fact that pretty much every other day, one of them gets married, has a baby or yet another “late thirties” birthday.

Now, I’ve been other places before this, you know. People there were growing old and having babies too. We got them donuts or little supermarket cakes and cheeky cards everybody signed in a million different shades of ink. “Have a good one”, “50 is the new 15”, “XOXO”, nothing crazy. Then we sang our embarrassing Happy Birthdays, poked a little fun at them soon to become pensioners, and life was back to normal in a matter of minutes. I was able to handle that pretty well, my social inadequacy considered.

But oh, how things have changed. Office celebrations are a whole different story in my current workplace. They’re like the Olympic opening ceremonies, like the crowning of a new royal. People expect the extraordinary. Chocolate fountains. Fireworks. Miley Cyrus in tight pleather daisy dukes.

Of course, everybody must attend to the wonderful preparations. The birthday boy/gal is obviously aware of what’s coming, but plays along for some reason, allowing themselves to be dragged into suspicious, several hours long meetings, while the rest of us proceed to taking our event planning roles very seriously. Mountains of plates and glasses are brought out of the cupboards we’d stacked them into just a day before, in the aftermath of another celebration. Bottles of wine are set to rest at room temperature. Bags of Doritos the size of toddlers are opened, their cheesy flavored contents distributed into a dozen porcelain bowls. Custom made birthday cakes are ordered and delivered. Yes, cakes. Plural. Every other day.

These joyous occasions are known among us as the “cake and stares”. The reason for that is that people generally gather around the mountain of goodies, start wildly munching on industrial quantities of cake and crisps and, their mouths stuffed with the delicious bounty, they’re unable to say a word. So, for minutes on end all you can hear is the satisfied chewing of a couple dozens party food enthusiasts. No Happy birthday, no Holy cow, this is some scrumptious grub, nothing but people staring satisfied into each other’s eyes as they chew away. It’s marvelous.

Now, I’ve got a problem. I don’t like cake. I know, I know, you can’t possibly believe that a cake hater actually lives and breathes in nowadays world, but what can I say, I must be the among the few remaining members of a dying species. I don’t have a sweet tooth, never had. I sometimes feel like having a bite of chocolate, or a spoonful of ice cream, but one bite or spoonful later and I’m done for the month. I do like Doritos, so much so that I’d fill my bathtub with them cheese dust oozing triangles of ecstasy and would just lie in there forever, crunching myself into a cheese flavored overdose.

So my cake intolerance and Doritos addiction considered, I try to keep myself away from the “cake and stares” celebrations. I’ll sign the birthday card, I’ll help with the preparations, I’ll even have a glass of wine (or two). Still, I’m seen as a traitor. It’s disrespectful towards the birthday boy/gal if I don’t join the munching. Not to mention that I’m also too skinny, therefore I need to help myself to a couple of brick sized slices of chocolate injected cake, and pronto, or I’ll surely succumb to inanition before long. Standing there all slim and superior, no sticky crumbles around my mouth, is seen as a form of defiance and will not be tolerated forever. I need to show a little respect and start chewing.

I push my luck every day, and every day I’m afraid they’ll have had enough with my smug attitude and will end up forcefully feeding me a briefcase sized cake. A particular scene from Roald Dahl’s Matilda comes to mind. Have you read that? If so, you’ll understand the constant terror I live in.

I need to run now, the wife of this guy I’ve never spoken to just had a baby. There’s sugar in the air.

November This and That: How To Lose a Blog in 30 Days

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few days now. And then I didn’t.

It’s a pity really, it was going to be a truly wonderful read. About how my life is turning out to be so incredibly exciting, that it’s just unrealistic to expect I’d find the time to actually blog about it. You would have loved it, every badly spelled word of it. She’s so interestingly busy, you would have thought, if only I could be exactly like her! If only my boring little existence didn’t allow for hours upon hours of 9gag browsing and Pretty Little Liars marathons! If only I weren’t such a loser.

I sigh. Imagining other people’s lives are lamer than mine, unlikely as that is, gives me a strange sense of accomplishment. It hasn’t all been for nothing. In this super duper whose-life-is-cooler competition, I at least haven’t finished last.

And then I turn back to the matter at hand.

I haven’t had the most miraculous of Novembers. I haven’t been living the dream, any dream, for the past month.

I’ve just been living.

At times, it’s been interesting. Like when V’s sister and her husband visited for a week, and they didn’t like to do anything we liked to do, or eat anything we ate, or my very innocent swearing, and went to bed before 9PM every night. And then they broke our guest bed (don’t ask, I’ve got half a dozen unconfirmed theories about how that happened!) and left. Then at times, it’s been boring. Like going through our every day house-hunting-queueing-not-getting-enough-sleep-sticking-to-a-budget-figuring-out-what-to-order-for-dinner-fighting-over-every-small-thing-just-so-we-can-ignore-the-big-things-for-a-little-while-longer business. And of course, at times, it’s been plain old depressing. Like booking flights for our Romanian winter holidays and realizing they cost us more than if we decided to spend Christmas in London, shopping til we dropped, eating out every night and drinking ourselves into oblivion.

As always, just when I was starting to come to terms with my November, it turned out December had sneaked up on me when I wasn’t looking (too busy clicking my way through 9gag, I bet!). And with this brand new, beautiful month came a lot of beautiful things. For once, tons of food, some of which I even cooked myself, go figure. December 1st being Romania’s National Day, V. and I decided to invite ourselves to the home of our only two Romanian friends in this country, and by way of pretending to help them prepare some national Romanian dishes, pretty much eat their food and drink their booze and voice our complaints about all things Romanian, whether they were willing to listen or not. Whether they’ll ever be calling us again I don’t know, but at least we’re all a couple of pounds fatter than we started, so this year’s national celebrations have been quite the success in my book.

And now that you’ve had a glimpse of my extraordinary past few weeks, hold your enthusiastic applause for a few seconds longer, while I present to you a sneak peek into what’s coming up next in this exciting world of mine.

Everything is pretty much still green here, but seemingly overnight they’ve put up a million billion little Christmas lights. They’re everywhere, including on top of my desk at work, where they blink away continuously and sing a bunch of tiny holiday songs in a loop. The blinking can’t be turned off, nor the happy music, which is great, because I hear they’re really good at pumping super duper holiday spirit into numb, pitiful souls like mine, and holiday spirit is what all the hype’s about these days. If all that works out, I’ll be all high on holiday spirit and traveling to Romania in a couple of weeks, where hopefully the local armies of Christmas lights will be reflecting their awesome blinking in a couple of healthy layers of snow. I’ve probably forgotten what snow feels like by now, but I’m sure I’ll remember soon enough. I’ll be attempting a bit of snowboarding and trying my best to survive the yearly holiday family drama, and then I’ll be making my way back to London, all rejuvenated and frostbite free. I’ll try to write throughout it all but you know I can’t be relied upon.

My Christmas lights installation is just about to start playing “Jingle Bells!” so I’ll leave you for now and focus all my attention, for the 80th time today, on the beautiful holiday spirited music. Jingle all the way!