Out-to-Lunch: Memories Starring Deniz

love all of my friends….just letting folks know that i think of them often – even if you don’t hear from me, i live in memories of good times and smiling faces or some great advice…thank you for being you.

— Deniz Conger

When I started writing this entry, the title was Out-to-Lunch: All About the People, because it is. But, there is one person who has a recurring role in the lunchtime escapes featured. That person is Deniz. Hence, the above quote, which I shamelessly ripped from her FB status this morning. So, here it is, Out-to-Lunch: Memories Starring Deniz

Before children, I developed written and visual communication tools for Syntel, a leading global provider of integrated information technology and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) solutions. My cubicle was located in the company’s headquarters in Troy, Mich., and was surrounded by others occupied with creative forces much like myself. For a visual think: The Office minus Steve Carrell and whoever his replacement is going to be.

For the most part, we were and still are communication mavericks, who often gave up our lunchtime recesses to polish lead generation strategies, finish deal-winning presentations, write speeches for the CEO or beat a needed-it-yesterday proposal deadline. But, every now and then, the opportunity to break out of the dull and the gray cubicle confines presented itself.

Here are my five favorite lunchtime escapes — starring Deniz — listed in descending order.

1. Sushi crash course at Noble Fish. Until this noble day, I didn’t know sushi. In fact, I hadn’t tried it before. My co-workers Deniz and Rob took it upon themselves to educate me with field trip to the sushi counter at the back of Noble Fish, a Japanese grocery store, at the corner of Livernois and 14 Mile Roads in Clawson. This encounter taught me proper sushi etiquette and about how much wasabi is needed for an endorphin rush.

2. Black bean burrito day at Good Food Company. Again, upon recommendation from my co-worker Deniz, we went to the deli at the back of the Good Food Company at 15 Mile and Livernois Roads in Troy. Sadly, anyone who has not eaten here never will. It went out of business and closed in 2009. Talk about a dagger to the soul of the best in natural, organic, vegan and vegetarian cooking. The head chef would even check with all diners to ensure all meals were as superb as she intended.

3. Pita House (now Lebanese Grill) on any weekday. Deniz and I escaped to this locale shortly after she began working at Syntel. It’s one of the few places I introduced to her. All people I know, have a weakness for the food and drink served here. The Lebanese Grill, which also has a location in Shelby Township (lucky me), makes the absolute best smoothies, lemonade, and Middle Eastern food in my part of the planet. Plus, the prices are reasonable and the wait staff is always attentive.

4. Style hunting and Macy’s lunch counter. It wasn’t Macy’s back then. It was Dayton Hudson’s and then Marshall Field’s. But, on this day close to the holidays, it provided us with much-needed fuel on a style hunting mission. Before, hunting Macy’s for outer wear accessories, Deniz and I stopped at the lunch counter for a turkey wrap with brie and cranberry sauce. Delicious. I believe we made at least three trips back to the lunch counter that same week because those wraps were like crack; and we needed a fix.

5. Royal Oak/Birmingham spring breaks. Have you taken a walk outside yet today? In my part of the planet, it is beautiful. This is no time to be sitting at a keyboard. But, here I am. Most of the time, lunchtime escapes to Royal Oak or Birmingham were on days just like today. The need to breath the warm air and see sunshine was just too great to ignore. Plus, how can one pass up the opportunity to people watch and to style hunt? Both Royal Oak and Birmingham serve up plenty of each.

Speechless

I am thousands of miles away from the devastation and chaos in Japan. It is a beautiful, sunny morning north of the “D”. My children are at school and I have yet to start on my daily to-do list. I keep thinking about Japan. The enormity of the situation there eludes me.

What can I say? There are not any words coming to my head. It’s impossible to know specifically what is being experienced. Can anyone imagine losing it all within a matter of minutes? I can’t. Urban landscapes and seascapes that were once thriving with life and activity are leveled and silenced.

A FB friend shared these NYT photos. I believe these are the best at telling the magnitude of loss in Japan. They capture the fragility of life; and how quickly it can be altered to a unrecognizable scape.

While on a date with my husband Saturday, we discussed earthquake activity in the Midwest portion of the US; and speculated on how unprepared this slice of the world is for a crisis. Just look at what happened in the Gulf leading up to and following Katrina and the BP oil disaster.

What to do? It’s human nature to put off preparing for future crisis situations; especially when my life has not been disrupted. There are so many more immediate “to-do” items competing for my attention. But, I thought Jamie Lee Curtis offered some worthwhile advice in a blog she posted Saturday on the Huffington Post. None of us know when disaster will strike. Wouldn’t it be better to be ready?