22 January 2008

goal oriented

my dad and his friends have a great tradition where they get together and set goals together at the beginning of each year. the idea of making your resolutions public not only makes them more concrete but makes the entire process more collaborative; you have a built-in cheering squad so there is more impetus to achieve them.

last year i did my own version by sharing my goals with all of you, my dear readers. so let's revisit. last's years goals were:
  • start yoga again in february, continue for the rest of the year except for months when i'm not entirely in madrid
  • celebrate my 30th birthday in style. feel wonderful about being 30.
  • pick up guitar again. sit on my terrace playing guitar in summer.
  • read the novel i wrote in november. edit it, if it seems worthy.
wow. check, check, check and CHECK! damn, that was easy. maybe i should make them a little harder this year. ok, here goes.
  • continue with: yoga, guitar, feeling wonderful about birthdays
  • get nothing to declare to a solid 5 posts per week. bring readership up over 150 individual hits per day
  • get going on writing that monthly column
  • finish writing my novel in february. edit the two parts together and decide what to do with it
  • stay at present weight
ok, there's five, one more than last year. two involve writing and two involve the zine, but none of this should be a problem. ready, cheering squad??

21 January 2008

final boarding call

i am on the wrong continent. i was supposed to leave new york on saturday and fly back to madrid, but something was pulling at me, keeping me here. my gut was telling me not to go, and as my mother lovingly told me: i should follow my gut; it has not led me astray thus far.

part of the issue was that i failed in my efforts to get alitalia to book me on a direct flight back to madrid on a different airline. and the idea of boarding one of their planes and handing them back my property was making me queasy.

and then there were the patriots, who were playing in what i consider to be the best day of football -- the conference championship games. the opportunity to watch football in the afternoon on a high def tv was almost excuse enough not to go.

and there were a bunch of other small reasons, but mostly i just wasn't ready to leave quite yet. and why live this lifestyle, why have this type of freelance non-career if not to be able to be spontaneous?

so i didn't go to newark on saturday morning. instead i called my boss and convinced him to buy me a new (direct) flight back to madrid on friday evening on a real airline, in exchange for working one more week in new york. so i'm still here.

i've heard a tinge of concern coming out of madrid that this might mean that i'm not ever coming back, that i'm going to stay in new york permanently. fear not my dear friends, i'll be back on saturday morning, ready to spend a fun weekend with you all. this is merely a few extra days, one more paycheck, a different flight and a love for a little team that you may have heard of. they're 18-0 and they're going to the superbowl and i love them.

11 January 2008

how to make your job more fun

working in an office can be a real drag, especially on friday afternoons! here are some things you can try that might be more fun than working! good luck!
  1. remove your eyeballs with the staple remover
  2. shove staples under your fingernails
  3. hole punch the soft spot between your thumb and forefinger
  4. stuff clorox disinfecting wipes down your throat
  5. empty the 3-hole punch into your lunch. pick the white dots out one by one with chopsticks
  6. pour the copy machine toner into your ear canal. shake your head back and forth.
  7. put the recycling bin over your head and walk into the wall repeatedly
  8. chew on a mouth full of paperclips
  9. sharpen a pencil. poke yourself in the brain.
  10. slam your hand in the file cabinet door
just a few ideas!

04 January 2008


from the new york times: "mr. obama’s victory in this overwhelmingly white state was a powerful answer to the question of whether america was prepared to vote for a black person for president. what was remarkable was the extent to which race was not a factor in this contest."

fantastic. thank you, iowans. and thanks also for turning out in record numbers to vote. you have set a great example for us, even though your caucuses are basically bullshit.

03 January 2008


my mom pointed out that every time i do my little stints in new york city, i end up sick in bed. she's right. i need to figure out how to do this differently, how to not get so run-down. on the one hand i have so many people to see while i'm here and i would like to see each of them at least twice. on the other hand, going out every night and working for the man all day isn't healthy.

so i think i have a solution. this time around, i'm not getting a cell phone. shocking, revolutionary! no cell phone? but how will i survive?

we're taking a step back, to a bygone era, to a simpler time. back when plans were made in advance and people showed up on time. this will make socializing more difficult. friends will not be able to flake out at the last minute. i will be unreachable after working hours.

to tell you the truth, i'm liking this so much i'm considering getting rid of my cell in madrid. (i jest, but maybe not?)

so i can be reached on email during business hours and sporadically after work. i have a direct land line in my office. for emergencies, call michael.

it is a daring social experiment, let's see how it turns out.

02 January 2008

alitalia sucks

flights are expensive this time of year, and so when i bought my flight home for christmas i chose the cheapest flight that avoided london, putting me on alitalia through milan and into newark. i had had a disappointing experience with alitalia a few years ago, so i was nervous about flying with them again.

i arrived in newark almost two weeks ago, and my suitcase did not. and still has not. in the first six days i spent upwards of 3 hours a day on the phone and did not speak to a single employee of alitalia. in all, my entire christmas break that was supposed to be spent having quality time with my family was mostly spent on the telephone yelling at people or trying to calm down after yelling on the phone.

the problem is that foreign airlines outsource their baggage handling to third party companies or partner airlines. therefore, the people who are charged with finding your bag have no real interest in serving you because you are not their customer. with alitalia unavailable for 6 days surrounding christmas, i took stronger measures.

i filed a complaint with my credit card company, who tried to help me but couldn't reach alitalia on the telephone. i called airports in boston, newark and milan without reaching an alitalia employee. i filed a complaint with the attorney general's office of new york state. i filed a complaint with the department of transportation's aviation consumer protection division.

i wrote a news story and sent it to news outlets in new york and massachusetts. this seemed to work. after six days, using a direct phone number given to me by the new york attorney general's office, i was able to reach a person in customer relations. on the seventh day they returned my phone call after i had forwarded correspondance from a new york city television station and my complaints to government agencies. they assured me that they were doing everything in their power to find my bag. they assured me that managers were being called. they assured me that a certain employee of newark airport was reprimanded for certain things she had said to me, including "ma'am, i work for delta" and "you are at the bottom of the pile."

i felt better. i went to new hampshire for five days and relished the lack of cell phone reception and internet to disconnect and stop angering about it constantly. today i returned to new york and i resumed my daily calling: the tv station, newark airport, customer relations. again i leave messages that are never returned; phones ring and are never answered. finally a phone was answered and they told me that a bag that might be mine will be arriving tomorrow. they told me not to get my hopes up. this is difficult.

so why am i writing about this here? a few reasons.

first, to let you know what you're getting into if you fly alitalia. maybe the flight will go perfectly. but if you have a problem, you'll be in trouble. i have traveled alot and this is by far the worst customer service i have ever experienced from an airline

secondly, i've heard of companies that for a small fee can help in situations like this. they put a GPS device on your bag, so that when the italians lose it for 14 days there is some way of finding it. i would recommend this service for anybody who is flying with a foreign airline outside of its own country.

third, if you experience a similar situation, i wanted to document the steps i took to finally get service. i spent countless hours doing research into how to be an outraged consumer, who to contact and how to get noticed. i found that the local news was the most effective means, and i used this website: complaint.tv to spread my story around.

so let's hope that the bag arriving is mine. now i have the fight ahead of me to try to get reimbursed for the necessities i purchased while my bag was lost, and another fight about my return flight to madrid. i obviously don't want to fly on alitalia and they certainly will not be allowed to touch my luggage. so we'll see. for the moment my hopes are slightly bolstered...