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Name: La Nina
  New Jersey

I'm a Jersey girl without the big hair or the accent (well, most of the time anyway), but with all of the bad driving and the penchant for weekly manicures.
Oh, and I'm an interior design student. That's how all of the weird terminology comes into play.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2004
DISTRESSED - Furniture that is marred to create the appearance of age and use. (from glossary)

As can be told by the late post, I’ve been quite busy on this first day of freelancing. I think I’ll skip the actual work bit as I’m sure that it’s not that interesting to the five of you that read this. I will however, make note of the things that have either distressed, surprised, or fascinated me about my day.


This morning I was well on my way to being to work on time. I got the PATH train, there were no delays, and I thought I might have enough time to grab a quick breakfast. Then I noticed a tall man who was obviously disoriented collapsing on the corner to Herald Square. I was far from being the closest person to him, and I observed that not a single soul would stop to help. As I approached, another woman asked him if he needed help. He said a few things, but she appeared not to understand and heard what she wanted to hear – that he was okay – and moved on. I asked him if he needed me to call anyone for him and he said, very clearly but laboriously, “Ambulance.” Turns out he was having a seizure. I managed to flag down a traffic cop, who in turn got a patrol car, who in turn was working on getting an ambulance and told me there was nothing more I could do. The man just wanted to shake my hand before I left.

So I ended up being five minutes late and I had Wheatables from the vending machine for breakfast. They’re pretty gross, but that’s the best you can get with no ID. However, I could live with that.

I spent a minute on my final ascent into work as to why nobody stopped. I came pretty close to not doing it myself and it was because I was concerned for my personal safety. It makes sense, but it’s still kind of sad that this man came very close to not receiving the medical attention he needed.


My new job is working for a very large media conglomerate. One of the perks of said conglomerate is its cafeteria, and I got to go there today. It is pretty amazing. You could get Porterhouse sushi if you asked for it, and you get to sit in booths. Mondo cool. And I never say “mondo” so you know this is a special occasion.

Teeny tiny itsy bitsy drawback: as I was nibbling on my mixed greens with salmon, a little insectoid creature that resembled a cockroach’s nephew decided to come out to play on my cozy booth seat. Luckily I am not squeamish, but I’ve been told I should have made the most of the occasion and squealed like a little girl in order to get a free meal.

Eh. Live and learn.


Last quick note: for the lot of you that think my color-coordinated bookshelf thing is obsessive, a few of you just can’t stop talking about it and how wrong it is. It actually makes me think I’m onto something. Goodness knows what though. :)

    posted by La Nina @ 10:44 PM   4 Comments

Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Cubicle Curtain
CUBICLE CURTAIN - institutional curtain fabricated to land 14-16" above the floor (from the Dezignare Interior Design Collective glossary)

I’m leaving very quietly. No need to make a fuss. Perhaps it would be better if we pretended I was never here.

It was all very promising at first. I saw an opportunity, pounced on it, and didn’t look back. It didn’t really matter at the time that I continuously felt uncomfortable in your presence. It equally didn’t matter that you clearly had no idea what to do with me.

We grew apart, plain and simple. I developed new goals, and you found that I wasn’t seeing to your needs. These things happen. I have no regrets, but I need to move on, and quickly.

As I silently walk out the front door without saying goodbye, I’ll make sure to leave my ID at the front desk.

    posted by La Nina @ 1:47 PM   0 Comments

Monday, September 27, 2004
TABBY - the [simplest] type of weave of a fabric. It looks like a checkerboard: a weft thread goes over one warp thread and then under the next, repeating 'over one' 'under one' until reaching the edge of the fabric (from glossary)



Why My Cats are Weird, or NotSoWeirdForCatsISuppose, or SuperCuddlyCute! Depending On My Mood

1. They think that the bathroom is the best place in the house to get some lovin’. And not just from me. Oh, no. Anyone who enters that room should expect small (or in the case of one of them, fat) furry creatures to descend upon them, begging for affection.

2. The fat one is Logan. He’s kinky. He has a foot fetish AND an oral fixation. He will either rub against your shoe until he has no fur on his cheek or lick your toes if they’re exposed. He licks fingers, furniture, and himself as well. (Well duh on that last one, but I didn’t want to leave the impression that he skipped his cleaning routine. That would be reeeeally weird.)

3. The black one is Domino. She’s such a lady. She spends entire mornings in the bathtub, soaking in the sun from the skylight and, favorite of all favorites, drinking from the plughole.

4. Logan weighs 18 pounds and makes the steps tremble when he runs down them, yet he has the high-pitched mewl of a kitten and occasionally makes the mating call of the Capuchin monkey.

5. Domino insists on sticking her butt up in your general direction when you pet her. If she lets you pet her. If she lets you see her. This usually happens in the bathroom.

6. Logan’s idea of being the life of the party consists of him finding a large group of people, getting right in the center of their social circle, flopping down and showing them his belly. (Actually, I’ve met a few guys like that at frat parties)

7. Domino waits by the kitchen doorway for Logan to show up, as she insists upon having an escort to dinner.

8. Logan is a breaking-and-entering specialist. Or maybe my bedroom door just needs to be fixed.

9. Domino is sometimes known as The Karate Kitten, as I once saw her catch a fly between her paws. Cat who catch fly with paw pads accomplish anything.

10. Sometimes I catch the two of them snuggling like a little couple, and he wraps his arm around her. Then he bats her on the head.

    posted by La Nina @ 10:59 AM   0 Comments

Friday, September 24, 2004
NAP - A fabric with a texture or design that runs on one direction such as corduroy and velvet (from

I'm really tired. Just had my exit lunch with the boss and the boss' boss at a charming Japanese restaurant. I love the first few minutes after the end of a nice sit-down restaurant meal when you're satisfied and the endorphins are kicking in, but a few minutes later I realize that I have to go home at some point and the feeling isn't very practical.

That's where I am now, and it's probably going to last the whole afternoon. Luckily I don't have to do much around here these days but I also can't just attempt to sleep under my desk a la
Seinfeld -- I do occasionally have some scruples. Plus my desk has shelves underneath. Damn.

So, 1 1/2 hours left to my day, and I'm working through a happy, sleepy fog. I can think of worse situations certainly.

Enjoy your weekend.

    posted by La Nina @ 2:53 PM   0 Comments

Thursday, September 23, 2004
COPING (from cope, Lat. capa)- in architecture, the capping or covering of a wall (from The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia)

Welcome to my very first instance of eating blog crow. Based on a few conversations I’ve had, I’m sure that some of you are hoping I might take back what I said about color-coordinated bookshelves (apparently that’s weird), but no. I instead wish to retract the following statement:

“The time spent in limbo at work after you’ve given your notice is a magnificent time.” – Finish Schedule, 9/20/04

I. Am. So. Frigging. Stir-Crazy.

In previous jobs that I’ve left, I’ve managed to be able to fill my final two weeks with work buddy chat or at least some actual work. Not here. Oh, no. As evidenced by my escapades with creepy philanderers, my work friends are very few and far between (I know you’re reading, Derek. You’re it as far as the work buddies go, dude.), and the work, well, let’s just say it’s not really there. Yet I want to look busy. AAAAH!

So yeah. Mmmmm. Feathers.

I would give anything to be able to play solitaire or something on Yahoo!Games. Unfortunately, my company’s internet usage policy prevents me from doing that. It also won’t let me look at Victoria’s Secret, but that’s another story. It’s a sound policy, but I’d like to think that I might be exempt for the next three days. Possibly. Okay, maybe not.

Three more days. Today I’m frazzled to the point of writer’s block (says she of the 250 words written until this point). Stay tuned to see if I end up channeling Charo by the time I finish here on Tuesday.

    posted by La Nina @ 3:05 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Book Match
BOOK MATCH - Matching between adjacent veneer leaves on one panel face. Every other piece of veneer is turned over, so that adjacent leaves are "opened" as two pages in a book. (from the Royalton Millwork & Design, Inc. website glossary)

My apartment is obviously a work in progress, and until the day that I become a professional designer and have access to all sorts of fabulous discounts at home stores and design showrooms, I have little choice but to work on things at a very slow pace. The above photo of the back wall in my living room is an excellent example of that. Note the three glass pieces screaming to be filled with flowers, glass beads, potpourri, M&Ms, a rabbit’s foot collection, ANYTHING. (Actually, their emptiness is simply due to the fact that I found the items last weekend and haven’t quite decided what to do with them, but that’s beside the point.) The print may move to another wall to make room for something a little more striking since this is the first wall you see when you enter the room.

The main reason I’m sharing this with you is because I’m very pleased with what I’ve done with the bookshelves that you can scarcely see at the bottom, if I do say so myself. (And I do.) I vaguely remember first picking up this tip in House Beautiful and have since added my own touches, such as including the cow and the painting. Overall, I believe that the color coordination creates an organized and pleasing effect, as if the books form a piece of art.

So, here I took this idea and pared it down to the bare essentials for a more masculine look – i.e. all of the books stand straight up, no accessories – and applied it to Ryan’s bookshelf when I went to Boston a little over a week ago (Ryan describes the process himself
here). He and I have both received a bit of flack for doing this: me for allegedly taking coordination to an obsessive level, and him for letting me do it.

Considering the fact that Ryan’s shelves took me about 45 minutes to do, and my own took maybe 20 minutes (less books), would you agree? Keep in mind how often you look at your bookshelf every day. I say that the results far outlast the effort but you may beg to differ. If so, we'll just agree to disagree, shall we? :)

    posted by La Nina @ 8:09 AM   1 Comments

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
FRETWORK - Victorian machine-made decorative wood panels created by combining various shapes, patterns and sizes of wood pieces together into an intricate, openwork design; Chinese lattice detailing (from the Dezignare Interior Design Collective glossary)

Yesterday I mentioned that I have one bridge to burn before I leave my current job. I sometimes wonder if I should have burned it six weeks ago.

At that time I had an encounter with a male (and married) co-worker who, after a sales conference dinner with an open bar, made a pass at me at a bar a few blocks away from the convention hotel. I managed to push him away and go home without too much hassle, but the incident has been eating at me ever since, for several reasons.

The first of these is that I’m embarrassed and a bit ashamed for putting myself into this situation in the first place. In stories of celebrity rape cases, the Kobe Bryant case being the most recent, the reaction towards the alleged victim is something along the lines of, “What did you think was going to happen?” Now, in the grand scheme of things, my predicament was (thank God) nowhere near as traumatic as that, but I feel I have a somewhat better understanding of the mindset as a result. In this case, my attitude was something along the lines of, “Wow, I’m so excited to have a work buddy! I haven’t met anyone at this job that I can hang out with after work and rehash and unwind with. Finally, after a year and a half, maybe things are going to change.” Between the (way too much) wine in my bloodstream and the inherent optimism in my heart, I certainly wasn’t thinking that I might possibly be placing myself in a precarious situation. So off we went, and it wasn’t until he pulled me onto his lap that it occurred to me that perhaps we weren’t quite on the same page here. I shake my head when I think about that because I know I am not stupid. And even though it does not in the least excuse him for what he did, I realize that I did a very stupid thing.

Another fact that bothers me is that there doesn’t appear to be a set of rules to follow when things like this happen. I have discussed this incident with two friends, two co-workers, two parents, and one boyfriend. All of them had completely different reactions and very different advice. Some thought that this was a pretty big deal, and some said that I shouldn’t worry about it and just let it go. Some said I should tell my boss, in case he does it again. Some said I shouldn’t tell my boss, because these he-said-she-said stories can get ugly, and why make it worse? So I thought and I fretted (these design-inspired titles do have a basis, you know) and basically prolonged any sort of definitive action. And now I’m leaving the company, so I have 6 more days to decide if I want to put this on the record or not, and I’m still on the fence.

However, what might push me over to one side is the fact that I’m ready to spit nails when I think about the way this man has behaved.

His first reaction when I rebuked him was, “I guess this means we’re going to go back to work tomorrow and pretend that this didn’t happen.” His reaction to my sneaking out of the bar was to call information, get my home phone number and leave me a perturbed message on my answering machine about how upset he was when I ditched him. His reaction to seeing me in the morning was to smile and say, “So, how’s your head?” (My answer, spoken through the tightest smile ever, was “Don’t speak to me.”) His reaction to the possibility that I might not let this drop was to send me an email stating that he feels awkward and wants to talk about what happened. I never wrote him back and we have done our best to avoid each other since.

He had so many opportunities to apologize, and yet he never did. In a case such as this, an apology may have been enough for me to forgive him, but the arrogance displayed throughout has only intensified my desire to see him suffer.

The current dilemma is if I decide to report him now, would I be doing it for the wrong reasons, particularly since he has not attempted to harass me since? So okay, maybe I am still on the fence about this. I just know that I’m frustrated and angry about the whole thing. And hesitant. Extremely hesitant.

For now, I suppose, I can be found at my desk, wondering how long I can stare at a set of matches.

    posted by La Nina @ 9:20 AM   2 Comments

Monday, September 20, 2004
Finish Schedule
FINISH SCHEDULE - documents detailing doors, windows, furniture, room finishes, colors and other components needing clarification for construction purposes (from the Dezignare Interior Design Collective glossary)

The time spent in limbo at work after you’ve given your notice is a magnificent time. I ought to know, as this is the fourth time I’ve been through it. I officially gave notice last Tuesday, and here’s a rundown of the things I’ve done at work since then:

· Wrote two blog entries (including this one so I don’t know if that counts).
· Wrote to and received from Ryan over 100 emails, I think.
· Caught up on my
Get Fuzzy reading.
· Spent about 3 hours on
Ebay looking at items under the search terms “Self-Representing Artists” and “Landscape Painting.” Didn’t bid on anything.
· Spent an hour on
CitySearch looking for places to go for my friend Liz’s birthday next Saturday.
· Called co-workers in order to surreptitiously make off with as many interior design books as possible because books are frighteningly expensive.
· Had two 1 ½ hour lunches.
· Went home early on Friday in order to deal with the cable man – God bless Tivo! I now know what
Miranda was going on about.
· Helped to plan a reading held in my apartment on Sunday for my friend Jon Crefeld’s play The Sword Politik. (I forgot that this is yet another source of the "La Nina" name as I've been working with this play for several months now. Sorry Cref!)

Oh, and I think I reorganized the filing system so that people can find the work that I’ve done after I leave.

Considering the fact that I have no bridges to burn here (except one, which I may discuss in another entry), I’m sure that there are plenty of ideas out there regarding better ways with which I could be spending my time. For now, I still have 7 days filled with empty space after which I can truly start the work I'd love to do, which involves finding ways to fill a space in a way that's constructive and beautiful.

    posted by La Nina @ 11:36 AM   0 Comments

Friday, September 17, 2004
Preliminary Sketches
Like many bloggers, this isn’t my first foray into serious, insightful, cover-the-issues journalism. My major in college was English, yet I never worked on the school newspaper; and though I work in publishing now, the majority of my job titles have had the word “marketing” in them. However, in high school I was once the editor-in-chief of one now charmingly antiquated form of media known as the underground zine for a glorious 1 ½ issues.

About now you’re probably saying something along the lines of “Nina. Honey pie. Absolutely no good can come of that last statement. No offense sweetie, but it probably royally sucked.” And you, dear reader, would be completely right.

They say that God is in the details, and the details of how I tried to produce this Xeroxed pile of crap are bound to give my 2 regular readers and a handful of bloggers hitting the “next blog” button (thanks Corey) their daily dose of schadenfreude for September 17.

It was called DSC, which stood for “Deviant Sexual Conduct,” a term discovered during one health class spent tittering in the back of the room and doodling in my Smells Like Teen Spirit notebook (the electrical tape anarchy sign on this thing kicked ass!). Apparently this term is one of the legal reasons one can get divorced in the State of New Jersey. I embraced it as a term embodying my subconscious desires for the sex, that I was choosing not to have but was endlessly curious about, and the rebellion, which at that time consisted of going to the nurse’s office when I wasn’t sick so that I might skip class.

So first we have the awful name. Let’s move on to the even worse concept.

My friends and I decided that our first point of order in putting together our brazen and defiant new publication was to create character alter egos so that our parents wouldn’t know it was us when they inevitably found a copy while picking up laundry off of our bedroom floors. So out of our adolescent brains comes a whole set of lovable ragamuffins for our peers to relate to, with names like Chastity (my EIC moniker), Spooky, Fin Luin, The Mad Hatter, Morgan Duck, and Ephemeral Hypochondria. In between op-ed pieces about how much we hated the vice-principal, we’d create stories for these characters with drawings and bad jokes about sex (there was a lame running gag about how the duck was a tramp and any instance of a “quack” had a cigarette smoke trail along with it – oy vey).

Oh, how we loved ourselves. The pages explaining the characters took up half of the zine. Then you’d turn the page and find a word jumble where you could unscramble the names of said characters. (POW – the excitement!) I’m sure the kids loved it equally as much before they left their copies littering the halls.

Eventually the zine broke up for budgetary reasons. We wanted red paper for our covers and the Blow Pop fundraisers we were doing just weren’t covering our expenses. And the P.O. box we rented for all of the inevitable fan mail didn’t come cheap.



Some days I look at
Homestar Runner and want to believe that we were ahead of our time. In my heart however I know that we were just really, really lame. I hope that the, erm, 10+ years that has elapsed since that time has taken some of the edge off of said lameness. Maybe, maybe not. I did love making that zine though. I think I’m going to really like writing this blog too. Lameness be damned.

    posted by La Nina @ 3:00 PM   0 Comments

Thursday, September 16, 2004
Red Carpet
Welcome to my premiere! Don't you look fabulous!

This would be the point where, were I at my job, I'd have to come up some sort of blurb or headline summing up why you should be interested in sticking around. Hopefully it won't be anything like "Don't Be Held Accountable, Be Sarbanes-Oxley Compliant With These Books!" such as I'm used to.

But I won't, because I'm certain that last paragraph bored you to tears by the end.

I frankly have no idea what I'm going to do with this site, and I'm prepared for it to be crap for a while until I have a clue what I'm doing. So in the meantime I suppose I'll answer some basic questions.

Question 1: I've read your profile and you don't strike me as a Kylie Minogue kind of chick. So where the heck does "Difficult by Design" come from, girlie-girl?

Yeah. Well, I've been meaning to explain that. I've recently quit my perfectly good publishing job to freelance and also to go to interior design school. So originally I thought I'd lift the title of a Manic Street Preachers song, "Design for Life," to use here. Apparently somebody's using that already. Jerk. (Kidding! Goodness you people are sensitive.) So using the blessed search engine that is Google I decided to look for other songs with "Design" in the title and came up with this one. It works pretty well, actually. I'm a difficult person (I'll share my road rage with you sometime you lucky reader!), and I've had to make some pretty difficult decisions in the past year, so that's that. Next!

Question 2: La Nina? What on earth were your parents smoking when they gave you a ridiculous name like that, and can I get some pizza with it?

You know that's not my real name, silly! It does indicate that I'm too chicken to leave my real name here but that might change eventually. The nickname came from a whole mess of tentative links:

a. My parents, both East Coast WASPs by birth, met in Spain and would call me "La Nina" once every few years as I was growing up, particularly when I was little and they wanted to talk about me in my presence.

b. Nina from 24 is my favorite character on television.

c. My boyfriend,
Ryan McGee, has referred to me as "The Girl" on his blog. I am the Dark Lady of the Web, it seems.
d. I like the idea of my name having possible weather effects. Okay, maybe it's due to global warming but I accept power in all forms.

If I have to explain myself any more, I shall only do so in Pig Latin with the vowels taken out. (Man, I just tried doing that for an example and you really don't want to see it.)

No more questions! You can always call my publicist. Yeah, right. My publicist.

So stay tuned for what I hope will be all kinds of fun, thought-provoking content in the near future, but right now I really need to watch The Apprentice.

    posted by La Nina @ 8:41 PM   2 Comments