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September 26, 2008

Passion fruit cocktails and bulk bead discount?

September 26. Day 88.

First things first: Recipe for a really good passion fruit cocktail. This is adapted from my aunt, who got me hooked on these with the fruits from her very own vine.

One wrinkled passion fruit.
One glass of chilled tonic
Splash of gin, optional.

1. Pour tonic into a glass.
2. Cut passion fruit in half and swirl a knife around inside, to agitate and loosen the pulpy juices.
3. Pour over tonic, stir, and add gin. Strain, optionally, or else crunch the seeds.


Now that we both have a drink, let's sit back and chill for a moment. I've been thinking, over the past months, about what is an asking. Some interactions obviously test my limits, some make me uncomfortable, but others seem routine. Sometimes I'm going out of my way to ask, but other times the opportunity falls in my lap. The least common denominator is that they're all things I would have hesitated to inquire about before this July. Maybe I hesitate today, as well, but I push myself to try, instead of being polite or 'knowing my place.' Or maybe before it simply wouldn't have occurred to me. So, I guess, this is putting me in tune with what I want, and forcing me to be braver in tiny and not so tiny ways.

I also notice this experiment is starting to morph, slowly, from something focused initially on money, into something more experiential. Can I see the inside of your house? What would you do with $10,000? Can I borrow your dog for the day? Those popped into my head right now, and I'm getting excited about the possibilities.

Finally, I realize these early posts will appear -- once I look back on them in a year -- just like the first postings of every blog. Tentative, wobbly, so transparent. Pudgy baby steps. I wonder what the last post will look like.

Today, I spent the afternoon with my Mama. We went for coffee at Pappalecco, which I'd missed on my New England romp, and then in Old Town, which is San Diego's traditional Mexican quarter (read: super-touristy pseudo-authentic money-making machine). But amid the fresh tortillas and stale shot glasses, there lies a gem of a store: Shepherdess Beads.

My mother, by the way, is a computer guru day and a jeweler by evening-to-midnight. She just launched a website,!

As I tried on different combinations of beads and tried to imagine I was that creative, she collected about two dozen strands of pearls and chrysoprase and other semi-precious stones. The total 'dollar value,' as they say, was a little dizzying, so I asked her if I could ask for a discount. It would be my first chance applying some the principles learned yesterday: be persistent and don't act impressed.

As the sales woman jotted the prices of our items on a log, I started talking with her about her jewelry. Figured it was a way to get her in a generous mood.

"Did you make your necklaces?"

"I did!" she said.

"They're beautiful." They really were. Silver and turquoise and coral, I think. Very delicate. We kept on chatting, about gems and beads, and then I went for it:

"Before you write down the total, can I ask you something? Is there any flexibility on the price, since we're getting so many?"

"You are," she agreed. "Let me see. I'm just the lowly sales girl," she added, smiling, "and I can't promise anything, but I'll check with the manager."

She came up with the tally, but then, suddenly she 'realized' something.

"You're already getting the frequent buyer discount!"

"Is there anything we could do, beyond that?"

"The employee discount is 20 percent, but I can't give you that."

I persisted: "What about meeting halfway? Anything you can do you would be very appreciated."

"You know, I just can't do anything beyond the discount you're already getting."

I didn't push it.

Gained: Not a thing! Was it my approach, or just the circumstances? Was I too eager, or was her manager just a hawk? I've been asking myself that a lot, lately. In any case, I've been planning on picking up Ask For It, the book written after Women Don't Ask, which provides concrete tools on this topic. I hope I'll find some ideas there.

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