Monday, December 29, 2008

Home is Where the Heart is

But what is you have trouble figuring out exactly where that is?

H2B and I spent a week in California, which was great. But as we boarded our plane yesterday to return to Baltimore, I had this feeling that I was going home. This isn't an unusual feeling; I've had it ever since I returned to college after that first Fall Break. A big part of me, though, felt like I was leaving home at the same time.

It's a strange feeling to feel like you have two homes. On the one hand, no matter where you are, you're always home. But on the other, you always miss home because you're never there. There's a sense of never really belonging anywhere and a constant feeling that I'm always waiting. In Baltimore I'm waiting until the next time I take time off from work to "go home" and when I'm in California, although I love being there, I still look forward to "going home" to get back to my life.

I really do love the life I've made for myself here. I have a great apartment, I love my job, and I have made some good friends. I simultaneously can't imagine ever leaving and look forward to a time when H2B and I decide to make a change.

I suppose this is better than a constant longing to be someplace else, doing other things. It's still pretty weird though...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reason #87 California is better than Baltimore

Okay, I admit that it's not really fair to compare; California is a whole state and Baltimore is just one city. But today, I'm mad at Baltimore and you know what? It's my blog and I'll do what I want!

So here's why, for today, I dislike B'more so much and yes, these are generalizations that have exceptions. People here are r-u-d-e RUDE! I understand that I grew up in a friendly town that was part of a friendly state and that not every stranger I pass on the street is going to smile and say hello to me. I have come to accept that.

HOWEVER, when you work in an office of less than a hundred people, and you pass someone in the hallway and not only do you not say hello but you don't even smile OR make eye contact, that's rude. I understood when I was the new kid in the office and maybe these people didn't know my name, but I've been here awhile now, you know me, fucking smile, okay? It takes very little energy, it makes other people happy and guess what? Studies show that even if you're in a bad mood, smiling will actually improve your affect.

AND if you enter the kitchen to get your morning coffee and someone else is in there getting a lovely beverage or snack, pretending you're all alone in there and going about your business in silence is RUDE. We are coworkers, we see each other 5 days out of 7. Even if you are a miserable, self-centered human being (one of many in my office these days), maybe putting forth some friendly gesture of a "good morning, how are you today?" will improve the workplace and therefore make you just a smidge happier. And if you're worried that I'm going to suddenly tell you my life story because you said "how are you?" get over yourself, most people will give you a one word answer such as "fine," "good," or maybe if it's a Monday "tired." Humans are social creatures, we need human contact. It's normal. Being rude is not normal.

And another thing, throw away your trash! Is it that much of an inconvenience to just hold on to your soda can, newspaper, sandwich wrapper, etc until you walk past a trash can? Do you realize that you are contributing to this city becoming more and more of a shithole than it already is? AND if you're at the gym, put your towel in the laundry bin, not the floor. You have to walk past it to leave the locker room. Who exactly do you think is going to pick that up? There is no towel fairy so do it yourself.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Work, Friends, and Work Friends

One of my former co-workers from LA once told me that her co-workers were just co-workers, that she had her own friends, thank you, and didn't need any more. I've been thinking about that statement periodically since I started this job. It's true that I spend more time with my co-workers than with friends or family and I do have, I like to think, quite a few work friends.

At some point, though, I wonder how many of them are truly friends and how many are just work friends. How many will I keep in touch with after I, or they, or both, leave this office for a different job or to start a family? There are certainly a few people who I would put in each category and some that I couldn't even begin to guess about.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Already

"Time flies when you're having fun." Isn't that what they always say? Well, while I don't characterize a lot of my time as being spent "having fun," I certainly have been enjoying myself the past year or so.

Once H2B got home from Iraq last November, I've focused my attention on waiting for the next weekend together. It helps that I love my job and don't spend the day drumming my fingers and watching the clock. So time has really flown. So much so that about a month ago it dawned on me that H2B will be getting out of the army in January! A mere three months away (from the time I had this revelation)! Hooray!

In preparation for this joyous event, we stopped buying plane tickets (because when plans get canceled on a moment's notice, we wouldn't have time to use the credits), he started moving some of his things up to Baltimore, and getting registered for school (to finish his nursing degree). Life was, in general, just a little more cheerful.

And then two weeks ago, the Army informed us that they would not, in fact, be letting H2B out of his contract 90 early as they had previously promised. No, now we would have to wait until April 27. Granted, an additional 3 months isn't that long to wait. But it definitely feels like forever when you go from counting down 59 days to 149.

I am trying to stay positive and remember, as H2B keeps reminding me, that in 20 years it won't matter if he got out of the Army in January or April. But it's still a big fat bummer and I still have to spend countless more hours in airports, on planes, and waiting waiting waiting.

At least time is flying...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chai Lattes

I discovered the wonders of the chai latte my freshman year at Scripps, around Thanksgiving time, at The Motley Coffehouse at my beloved Scripps College. To this day, I have no idea what spices meld themselves together in this scrumtious treat, but I love it. As many of my friends, family, and colleagues know, I do not really enjoy hot beverages and favor Diet Coke over coffee 99 out of 100 days of the year.

This morning I arrived at work with my 44oz "keg" of diet coke to discover that I was without butter for my toast (and my bread was stale to boot). So after my 9am meeting, I forced my hungry butt out into the cold and made my way to The Daily Grind for a bagel. Once there, the thought of holding a cup of warmth would make the walk back much more endurable. So I ordered the largest chai latte they had.

That was about an hour ago. 15 minutes ago, I read an e-mail about my 5 year Scripps reunion next May. The committee members had strategically sprinkled reminders of our four years of fun and bliss throughout this message to encourage those less willing to a) attend the reunion and b) fork over hard earned cash to support the college.

After reading this e-mail, I was filled with nostalgia. My four years at Scripps were very special. Scripps gave me a place where I felt I really belonged and fit in a way that I hadn't through the nightmare drama and pettiness of high school and junior high. This is a feeling I get whenever I spend any time face to face with a fellow Scrippsie.

So when, 5 minutes ago, I realized my chai latte had cooled to a point where I could take that first sip (okay, so it's pretty cold by now since I forgot about it) those feelings of nostalgia and happiness became firmly cemented in my head and heart. I am hoping that feeling stays with me as H2B and I head up to Maine this evening to spend a chilly, but delicious Lobster Thanksgiving with my mom and sister.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sleepless Nights

I have always been a troubled sleep; my mom says that even as a baby I had trouble "letting go of my day." The past couple of nights have been especially bad though. So yesterday when I left work, I set out to do everything I could to ensure I got some good sleep before H2B arrives tonight for a three day weekend (for him, I still have to work tomorrow).

I went to the gym, cardio-ed for about 20 minutes and did 20 more minutes of weights. Traffic was not so relaxing in the rain, but I had some good tunes so that was fine. When I got home I had some ice cream (Ben & Jerry's Brownie Batter, I highly recommend it), and then took a 30 minute bubble bath in my jacuzzi tub with a glass of merlot. By 9, I was relaxed and clean. But still, I could not sleep. What is wrong with my brain!!??!?!?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


As I sit here, around 10am on Election Day, I'm finding it difficult to get up the motivation to fight the lines at the polls to vote. Don't get me wrong, I will vote; this election is too close, too important, and too historical not to. Plus I want the right to complain and complain and complain should McCain win, a right that I would forfeit if I didn't vote. But this only applies to the presidential portion of this election. I have yet to invest enough in Maryland to be able to make an informed decision on many of the issues.

I actually find myself more interested in the California election than the Maryland one. California has two propositions this year that are super important. Proposition 8 would ban gay marriage and proposition 4 would require minors to get parental permission to get an abortion. These are issues that I would MUCH rather be voting on than Maryland's question 2. If question 2 passes, slot machines would be legalized in Maryland to help fund schools. Whoopedy Doo! This is not a major issue in the grand scheme of things. Yes, funding education is a big deal and yes, Marylanders who travel to Virginia or Delaware are helping to fund schools in those states as of now. But since I am out of school and don't have kids yet, I'd rather be weighing in the California props.

So there is my little political rant, they are few and far between, so I hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hurry up and wait

I feel this is an ever present phenomenon in several aspects of my life at the moment.

The wedding plans have come to a screeching halt. After about six weeks of drowning in a sea of to-do's, I finally relinquished control to my mom. Unhindered by a 9-5 job in cube-land, within ear shot of dozens of colleagues, she managed to book all remaining vendors and thus has become my hero for the bazillionth time. The thing with planning a wedding is that you scramble to book venues and vendors nine months to a year before the event. However, once you've done that, you sit back until a couple of months prior at which point you scramble to choose whether you want white or yellow daisies, what font you should use on the invitations, and if your first dance should be a cliche, cheesy ballad or something you both actually enjoy. Hurry up, then wait. Repeat.

Things at work seem to be going the same way. Clients come to us frantic to get a brochure printed or web site built by next week or some other insane timeline. So we race around getting cost estimates from photographers, designers, printers, mail houses, etc only to wait a week and a half before getting approval to move forward. We then get the first draft of XYZ project done in record time! Hooray!! But then we can't get the clients to respond for WEEKS!! Hurry up, then wait.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


A co-worker/friend of mine owns her own home and has had a roommate renting a room for the past three and a half years. As most roommate experiences go, however, things are no longer working out. We’ve been hearing the amusing details for quite some time now and at lunch today, my friend announced that she is kicking the roommate out. Finally! So the super fun group with whom I had half-priced burgers for lunch spent the hour sharing funny roommate stories. I am sharing some of the best with you, my faithful readers:

• One guy moved in without notifying his roommates that he had two huge iguanas. Not a big deal? Yeah, except the roommate discovered this when she opened her door in the morning to find one of them in the hallway. Yup, Huge Iguana One and Huge Iguana Two were litter box trained and roamed the house. Creepy!

• One home-owner’s roommate refused to admit that there was a problem with his toilet and, apparently unable to fix it any other way, scratched up the porcelain in the bowl with a coat hanger.

• Another home-owner found that he was always low on spoons. He dismissed these thoughts, figuring his roommate was a slob and not bringing things back to the kitchen from her room. She then moved out, at which point he counted his spoons. His set of 24 was down to 6. He still doesn’t know what she did with all the spoons.

• One person had a vegetarian roommate who just assumed that various vegetarian foods including peanut butter, hummus, and tofu must belong to him and ate them, even if he hadn’t been grocery shopping in weeks and so clearly had not purchased these items. And it’s not like carnivores eat the occasional PB&J or anything.

• A crazy roommate who liked to passive aggressively test her roommates considerate-ness left leftover sushi on the kitchen counter for three days waiting to see if they would throw it away. Gross.

• A drama queen roommate had crazy screaming fights with her boyfriend ("All my friends are married and having babies. I don’t see any babies, Max! Do you see any babies?!?!”) in common living space, leaving her roomie no escape route. Helpful hint: when yelling at your boyfriend, be courteous and time it so your roommate/landlord is not at home.

Some of these stories are my own. I have countless more horror stories and just as many positive tales of late night gossip and eating cool whip straight from the tub. I am, however, happy to have been living alone for over a year and just as happy that the next roommate I have will be H2B

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chaos at work!

So yes, I've been AWOL for a couple of weeks now. Life's just been too busy. Instead of trying to catch you up on everything that's gone on for the past two weeks, here's what happened yesterday.

My office has been using Groupwise for e-mail since I started working here over a year ago, and for probably a long time before that. Until yesterday, when we migrated to Outlook. Chaos ensued.

For some of us young professionals, the migration was no big deal and to some of us it was even welcomed with open arms. Being a part of the generation that job hops, most of us have used Outlook before and are aware that it is a better program. Others in our office have been here for years and years, long enough to have either never used Outlook or to have wipe all memory of it from their minds. The day was almost a total waste. Even for people who knew what they were doing, it was still an adjustment, plus adding in time to answer questions from everyone else like "How do I get rid of the reading pane?"

Not only did we switch e-mail programs, but we updated to Office 2007. I spent 30 minutes trying to figure out how to "Save As"

I like to think I'm pretty flexible and learn knew programs and processes pretty quickly, but even I was frustrated yesterday. I can't wait until our requisite office fuddy duddy who can't handle change will take all of this when she returns from vacay on Monday...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We have set a date!!

At last I have an answer when people ask when I'm getting married! Hooray! July 11, 2009!

Most people who know me well (and some who don't) know that on most days (we're talking 99 out of 100) I get a 44 oz. fountain diet coke, also known as a Super Big Gulp or SBG. Thus, H2B and I felt it was important that our anniversary be 7-11. We are so glad that our one stop shop venue (ceremony and reception) was available on this special day!

I have decided on a dress and once I get back to Baltimore (I'm visiting my mom in California at the moment) I have an appointment to get measured and order it!

On to flowers, invitations, and cake! Oh my!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A non-linear process for a linear thinker

Last weekend, H2B and I toured our first possible wedding venue. Granted, it's the one and only place we've seen so far, but it's pretty awesome. The cost is not prohibitively high, and seems almost reasonable, and the best part is this: they do everything for you but the flowers, cake and music. YES! Fewer logistics for me to deal with! I'm also getting ready to fly to California to visit my mom and order my dress.

So a picture of my wedding, oops, OUR wedding, has begun to form in my head. Great! I was starting to feel like a defective bride! So for the past few days, instead of focusing my undivided attention on watching the many many hours of shows that are recorded in my TiVo, I've been googling like crazy!

Yup, CRAZY. I am a linear thinker so my first instinct is to take on one thing at a time. I'm learning, however, that this way of thinking is not compatible with the wedding planning process. My brain does not know what to do with this. In the span of one hour last night, with a glass of wine at my side, I googled the following (and sent H2B many many links for his opinions): wedding hair, honeymoon locations, wedding cakes, invitations, and area rugs. Okay, so that last one actually falls in the home decorating category, but you can see my point.

All of these ideas are great, but guess what? We can't do anything until we find and book a place. I am so anxious to do that because I feel like once a date is set, the next logical thing will magically make itself known to me. Plus the added bonus of having an actual answer when people ask when the wedding is!

I'm sure my fabulous Excel skills will help me keep track of what has been done and what still needs to be done. It's a shame that project management of this magnitude is not an appropriate thing to put on a resume!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Become a chauvinist, you'll make more $$$

One of my Scrippsie friends sent me a link to this article from the Washington Post this afternoon. All I have to say is wow. In case you are too lazy to click this link, but aren't so lazy that you're going to read this post, here's a quick summary. A study published in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology found that men with "traditional" views of gender roles (a.k.a. men should work while women stay at home to cook, clean, and have babies) make more money than men with "egalitarian" views of gender roles (the idea that men and women can be successful in the work place and can share, equally, household chores like parenting, cooking, etc). Both groups of men, however, still make more money than women. Just so you can get the whole picture, here's the spectrum of average salaries, from highest to lowest, of people in similar jobs, with similar levels of education, and a similar number of hours worked per week: Chauvinist Men, Good Guys, Career-Minded Women, Stupid women who feel they belong home.

It's really no secret that I tend towards the feminist end of the spectrum, so it should come as no surprise that I have some thoughts about this. Now, I try to be fair and give the human race the benefit of the doubt on most things. So as I read through this article, I began trying to think of reasons for these disparities. The only one that seemed remotely plausible was that men tend to be more assertive and aggressive and therefore can probably negotiate higher salaries.

No such luck, the article addressed that too. It's apparently more likely that "People make others uncomfortable when they disconfirm stereotypes -- we don't know how to interpret them."And that apparently results in a lower salary for men who feel women are of equal worth in the workplace.

The only comfort I took from this is that at least there's a group making less than I, and it's the women who are working, but think they should be playing a more domestic role. I really hope this holds true. I know a number of women my age who openly admit that they are only working until they meet a rich guy who'll marry them and then they can quit, and the first thing they try to figure out when meeting a new guy is how much he makes and how much he has. Seriously?? Are there still women out there like this?? It appalls me, it really does. And it offends me that some of them are my age, with the same, or similar, job title as I have. Please oh please let them be making significantly less money. Wouldn't that just be the epitome of just desserts?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Perhaps I'm not growing up after all...

So, having reflected for the past few posts on my growing maturity and wisdom, I would like to share with my loyal readers (all two of you) the backslide that happened today.

Let me start at the beginning...

You know that H2B and I have a shiny, new apartment (but that he doesn't live there yet). I've been make trip after trip to Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, etc looking for curtains, area rugs, and placemats galore to make this place a home. But it's not enough for me that it be filled with functional items, I want these things to be nice and avoid that "collegey" look of furniture purchased on Craig's List or passed down from dorm rooms of graduating seniors. So as you can see in this photo, I have a deep, purple, velvet couch and 2 Scripps green reading chairs. Now, they look okay together, but finding rugs, curtains, etc that match both has been a challenge.

This past weekend, I went to NC to visit H2B. We each had one goal for the weekend: mine was to find curtains, his was to find matching nightstands. We found neither, but we did score an awesome, brand new couch for $300. Sweet! We had already agreed to get a futon for the spare bedroom, so that it can still be usable space for us, but still a comfy(ish) guest room. This means goodbye to the Purple Beast.

At first I was happy; we had a great new couch that was more comfortable and easier to decorate around. Plus, it's an actual adult person couch whereas I bought the Purple Beast from my old boss when she moved from LA to NYC, and she had bought it used from someone else. So who even knows how old this thing is and it's getting a little shabby.

But today, as I was asking various co-workers if they knew of any college age kids who could use a cheap, super cute couch, I suddenly got this overwhelming feeling that I am just not ready to let go of the Purple Beast. It was my first major furniture purchase (by volume, not by cost) and I do love the color and it's quite comfy. I have a sense that there's some deeper, psychological reason for my wanting to keep it. I just don't know what that is yet... All I know is, I'm clearly not as grown up as I'd like to think. And I'm good with that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I feel that I have reached a milestone in life. And it’s one that I never really thought about until I reached it. I am finally at a point where I can work from home. This is a big step. It means that not only am I responsible enough to actually work from home instead of vegging on the couch, but my bosses see me as mature and responsible enough to be able to work at home.

The first day I worked from home a few weeks ago, I honestly had no idea how it would go. I had a big report to write and was hoping I would be able to concentrate on it amongst the boxes and chaos that my house was in as I prepared for the move. I was pleasantly surprised that I got an astonishing amount of work done and the time flew by. The only problems were that 1) around 3 or 4, I got really stir crazy and felt the need to seek human interaction and 2) I was uber-responsive to every e-mail I received so that folks back at the office would know that I was working hard and not slacking off.

So yesterday morning when I woke up feeling sicker than I’ve felt in years (I’ll spare you the details), I spent an hour hitting the snooze button, telling myself that if I didn’t dry my hair I could hit snooze two more times (you know the game), before it occurred to me that I didn’t have to figure out what to wear, I didn’t have to put on makeup, I didn’t even have to get out of my PJ’s. I’ve never been one to call in sick at work. I think I’ve only done it twice. So it was really nice to realize I could go back to sleep until 9, and work from the comfort of my own home.

The only problem with working from home while you’re sick is resisting the temptation (and need) to take a nap.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Moved!!

Yay! The move that I’ve been waiting for since H2B and I signed the lease in JUNE finally happened over the long weekend! Now that it’s over, I can tell you that it’s done, all my belongings are in tact and within the four walls of my new swanky apartment. However, the road getting there was so full of bumps and potholes, I prefer to call it an obstacle course.

As I may have mentioned previously, my new apartment building is indeed new. It was just built. When H2B and I first toured it, the interior walls weren't even up yet, just the framing so we could see (sort of) the size and shape of the rooms. Our fingers were tightly crossed that we would be able to move Saturday or Sunday of Labor Day weekend, instead of having to wait till Monday of this rare three-day weekend. After going back and forth a million times with the managers, we finally convinced them to let us in on Sunday.

Stubborn H2B did not feel that the cost of hiring movers for something we could do ourselves was not money well spent. I was not able to change his mind on this, but he did convince his army friend, Frank, to come up and help out. I was a little nervous about this, no offense Frank, because I've had professional movers several times in the past and they are great. Moving yourself just blows. So mid-week last week, H2B calls me and says Frank can't come. I paniced and made the executive decision that professioal movers were now not only preferrable, but necessary. I found some who were available on this very popular moving weekend, 3 movers for 3 hours for only $306. Not bad at ALL! A half hour later, H2B calls back saying Frank now CAN come. I kept the movers, but welcomed Frank to come up and enjoy the wonders of Baltimore.

Sunday morning, at 9am, the three of us were hanging out on my front steps waiting. Around 9:30, H2B asks if we should call the movers to see where they are. Trying to be very laid back and relaxed (totally uncharacteristically), I tell him movers are always late and not to worry. 9:45 rolls around. No movers. I call the company, they are worried because this crew is supposedly very reliable. Yeah, they were in a horrible car accident and at a local hospital, wondering if their driver was going to make it or not. Of course I felt horrible for them, but was also thinking "well now what am I going to do?" This most excellent moving company got me a replacement crew by noon! Amazing! I highly recommend them, if you're moving soon, check out

So my new apartment is all set. At least at first glace. All boxes and miscellaneous furniture is in the spare bedroom, with the door shut. I foresee it staying that way until H2B returns to town. He is the nester of the two of us. I'm not one to put stuff up on the walls or unpack boxes full of crap that I should probably throw away when I could be on the couch watching a Law & Order SVU marathon or trashy movies on Lifetime.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I haven't posted in awhile because I've been busy packing and getting ready for the big move. H2B and I planned out our visits for August and September so that I would be in Baltimore alone the weekends before and after the move for packing/unpacking/settling in. Saturday afternoon I was feeling super bummed out; it's so depressing to sit on the couch amongst boxes and suitcases. A friend of mine (Hi Lauren!) asked me to go out with her and some other friends on Saturday night. I ended up not going (all my going out clothes were packed and you KNOW how hard it is for me to motivate myself to leave the house after dark) and I'm glad I stayed at home.

I realized at some point over the course of the evening that this was my last weekend night alone in a home that was just mine (H2B and I are both on the lease for the new place, even though he won't be moving in for a few months). I ordered pizza and opened a bottle of wine and watched bad TV movies while I pondered the past four years. I've lived in six places, had eight roommates, worked in three offices, and have learned to navigate four cities on two coasts, all on my own. I've grown up quite a bit since I graduated from college.

A blog that I read religiously, Working Girl, had a post today about financial independence. My parents always made it clear that once I graduated from college, that was it, the Bank of Mom & Dad was closed. It was so scary at first, but I can't tell you how much I appreciate being able to function on my own. Not just financially, but in each of those four cities, I built a life for myself. And I've been pretty happy with the life I've built for myself here in Baltimore.

As I sat there thinking about how far I've come and how good the past four years have been, I'm equally happy to see where the next four, ten, and twenty years will take me. And I'm excited that H2B will be there with me this time around.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Anxiety and Disorder

I have returned from my weekend in Hicksville, NC. It was, as usual, very relaxing. H2B and I watched movies, snuggled, and ate a lot of food, none of it healthy. I also slept A LOT. I’m still tired though and here’s why...

I’m stressed about my upcoming move. I know, I know, I’ve moved before. I’ve moved eight times (including this one) in four years. I’ve moved by myself, I’ve moved with the help of friends, I’ve hired movers. I’ve moved two miles, I’ve moved 60 miles, I’ve moved 3,000 miles. But I’m still stressed. I don’t find this abnormal, most of my friends would agree that this is a stressful thing. H2B, however, doesn’t get it.

Over the weekend, he did his best to try to help. He asked what I was stressed about and my response was simple: “the move.” It turns out, in the mind of some men, this is not specific enough. He asked if I was stressed that it wouldn’t get done, nope. He asked if I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get everything packed up in time, nope. He asked if I was worried that the truck would break down on the highway somewhere in the five miles between my old place and my new place, nope. It’s just general anxiety about the whole event. Living amongst the chaos of boxes and disarranged furniture makes me crazy. I don't like living in that kind of disorder. It’s a stressful thing, you know?

I guess it just never occurred to me that my worries needed to have a solution, or even be that concrete. Is it just me or is it a gender thing? Or is it neither, just a difference in personality?

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's the little things

I am a simple person. H2B will tell you, it's not the grand gestures that make me ooh and ahh and brag to my friends. It's the little things.

Today has been a pretty blah day at work. No crises to avert, no crazy clients making insane requests. I'm leaving for the airport momentarily, but just had to write one more post!

What is so exciting you ask? Well, I got a new keyboard for my work computer! Just one day after requesting an ergonomic keyboard, one miraculously appeared in my cube after a trip to the kitchen for some fresh water! Granted, this is not so exciting that I needed to update the blog-o-sphere immediately, but since most of my must-do work is complete and all e-mails have been sent, I had to figure SOME way to test drive this bad boy!!! It has "favorites" buttons so I can open my favorite programs without having to go to my start menu. It has music controls that are already working with iTunes, I can pause and mute much more quickly in the event one of the big wigs strolls by my cube. It's pretty much the best thing that's happened to me this week (so far... that is!)

Off to the airport to make my week even more exciting! ta ta!

Every other Friday-ish

Today is Friday (at long last!) and I have a seat on my usual flight to North Carolina (did I mention my Husband-to-be lives there for the time being?). I take the same early evening flight at least once a month, sometimes more often, averaging every other week, I’d say. Not only have I developed a keen sense of what time to leave work to quickly drop by home to pick up the mail and grab whatever it is that I forgot to pack Thursday night/Friday morning, but I’m a frequent enough flyer that there’s a group of business travelers who now recognize me. More on that in another post.

Preparing to go to the airport takes almost 24 hours. Of course there’s the customary online check-in precisely 23 hours and 59 minutes before the flight time, as most Southwest passengers now have done to a science, I’m sure. This week, I’m A54 (I was about 20 minutes late, a little out of practice since it’s been about a month since my last trip). Throughout the day at work, I check the weather. Baltimore, of course, is the first zip code I check, hourly forecast. Today, we have “isolated thunderstorms” all afternoon and into the night. Not as bad as “scattered thunderstorms,” so far I predict a delay of 30 minutes (I should add that this flight is almost never on time, when it is, I do a happy dance in my head). Next, I check the zip code of the NC airport. Hmm, depending on how long we’re delayed in Baltimore, could be isolated or scattered thunderstorms. I shift my prediction to an hour delay. Just for my own information, I check the radar map for NC, because H2B lives over an hour away from the airport, so I want to see how the weather might affect the length of our drive. This step is least important, since I don’t much care once we’re together.

Now, the less seasoned traveler might stop here. I, however, next checked the weather for the airport in New York where my flight will originate later this afternoon. Ouch, scattered thunderstorms there too. Major bummer. I should add that part of the reason I schedule myself on this particular flight, requiring that I leave work early and race against the clock to park and get through security with just enough time to line up with my boarding group, is that Baltimore is only the second stop for this flight. The later flight originates in California and Baltimore is its fifth stop. Much smaller chance for a delay for me, thank you.

Looks like tonight I’ll be spending some extra time with my friend Al. More on Al later...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gym Personas

Over the course of my twenties, my workout habits have varied widely. There have been times when I spent 30+ minutes on the elliptical every night, I went through an intense, at-home yoga period, and then there have been the do-nothing-but-sit-on-the-couch phases. I joined my current gym about six months ago and go on most weekdays, with week long breaks on occasion for thesis writing, social commitments and general laziness.

About a month ago, I had a wellness assessment at work “just for fun” and discovered that my body fat percentage is way higher than I would like (on the bright side, my cholesterol is only 127). In a panic, I asked my health assessor/colleague the best way to reduce my body fat. When I told her I do about 30 minutes of cardio three or four days a week, with some resistance training after, she told me I need to up my trips to the gym to five or six per week, with 45 to 60 minutes of cardio AND a boost in my resistance training.

It’s taken me some time, but I’m now fairly comfortable ellipticalling for an hour at a time and, since my gym has a personal TV for each cardio machine, I can channel surf until I find something motivating to watch (helpful hint: the food network doesn’t work). However, at times I prefer to people watch, a timeless favorite of gym-goers everywhere, I’m sure. Today I want to share with you some favorites of mine:

Petite Runner Chick – A staple in gyms world-wide, this cute-as-a-button daily runner typically sets the treadmill at a quick pace and sticks to it forEVER. She rarely lifts weights, which makes me wonder if she’s an endorphin junkie. She’s not disgustingly skinny, but thin and in good shape. Not much fun to watch.

Old Weightlifter Man – This man is either in his mid-50s or in his late-40s and not aging well. He has thinning hair that sticks straight up and wears a tank top, you know, the kind with arm holes that go all the way down to his wrinkly, gross waist, and too short running shorts. He hangs out in the free weight area, but come to think of it, I’ve never seen him actually lift any weights... hmm...

The Gym Rat – Not much to say about these, we’ve all seen them. They spend a set amount of time on the treadmill, switch to the elliptical and hang out there for awhile and then switch the stairmaster. They are way too skinny and I just want to feed them a piece of toast.

Bodybuilder Guy – This guy is in his late-twenties or early thirties and is ALWAYS at the gym. He does five or ten minutes on the treadmill to warm up and then hits the free weights hard. He has big, bulging muscles (overcompensating perhaps?) and can lift those really big dumbbells that I used to wonder what kind of person actually used those?? His neck is nearly non-existent and is always talking to his fellow bodybuilder guys about sports or protein powder.

Lazy Old Lady Walker – This older woman gets on the treadmill, sets it for about .5 mph and strolls along while browsing through a magazine. Clearly, she subscribes to the theory that just being within the four walls of the gym will improve your cardiovascular health, burn more calories, etc. I swear I saw her chewing gum while “working out” one day. A variation on this character is the woman who locks her elbows and desperately holds herself up on the stairmaster or elliptical while her legs move faster than the speed of light. Super muscular legs, but probably not quite doing much for overall fitness...

Weird Office Guy – I think this guy is unique to my gym, although my workout buddy is convinced I made him up. He shows up every night around 5:45 (my workout buddy arrives after 6, if at all :) ), wearing what looks like a business suit only without the jacket or tie. No joke, the guy is wearing slacks with creases down the front, a button down shirt, loafers and BLACK SOCKS!!! He heads straight to the weight machine area, you know, the circuit one, puts down his backpack, does a couple reps on a couple of machines and then he disappears!! I have no idea how, but I never see him leave. I’m fascinated by this one, I only wish he provided me with more than five minutes of entertainment during my own, totally normal, workout.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Weekend of Productivity

I had some lofty goals for my weekend. Since I frequently spend my weekends with my husband-to-be in the oh-so-glamorous town of Fayetteville, North Carolina, weekends I spend in Baltimore, alone, are usually jam packed with errands and chores that I can't squeeze in during the week. And now that the weekends before the big move are countable on one hand, the pressure is on to get a lot done.

My goals for this weekend were simple: steam clean my carpets (which are moving with me and it's easier to haul a rented steamer up three steps in the current house than two flights in the new place), pack everything that's not an absolute necessity for the next three weeks, and hit the gym Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.

Friday night, I had dinner plans with some friends I work with. They had to get home on the early side to walk their dogs, so I figured I would still have time for the gym afterwards. Well, as it turned out, a pretty good sized group of co-workers ended up at the same bar we were having dinner at for happy hour. So when my dinner buddies left, I joined the crowd for some more drinks. The motivation to shed some pre-wedding pounds vanished, but I stuck with Bacardi and Diet Coke, so at the calorie intake was somewhat limited.

I woke up Saturday morning, spent about half an hour enjoying the extreme comfort of my bed and plotting my day. I decided to get the carpet steaming out of the way first, workout second, and wrap up the day with some packing. As I headed to Safeway to rent a RugDoctor, I got a text from one my drinking buddies from the night before saying he was heading to the gym. I was tempted to shift my schedule, but decided that if I was to lose motivation mid-day, the carpet steaming was priority numero uno.

I had expected the steaming process to be a comedy of errors, but everything went off without a hitch. Even though I had a 24 hour rental window, I returned the RugDoctor immediately after, just in case the motivation waned as the day progressed.

On the way home, I called my old roommate, who lives about 20 minutes away to see if she and her dog could use a visitor. I hadn't seen her in ages and thought we could chat for an hour or two and I could go to the gym on the way home, leaving the packing for Sunday. Here's where my plans went way out the window. As it turns out, Maria is the only one of my friends who wanted to talk about wedding planning more than I. In fact, until yesterday, any wedding thoughts lasting longer than ten minutes stressed me way out. I have no idea how to start, where to start, and who to ask for help.

After five minutes of browsing through dresses on, we stumbled across a the site of a designer whose dresses were just my style. We got so excited that we found a bridal shop nearby who carries the entire Alfred Angelo line. After a quick shower to shave my legs and get feeling a little more bride-like, we were in the car.

I'll spare you the details of the four beautiful dresses I tried on, and leave it that I found a dress that I love. We went from the bridal shop to a sushi restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner and then to the liquor store for celebratory supplies. I arrived home around 9, had a couple glasses of wine, and was asleep at a decent hour.

Today, I managed to pack a few boxes and then get to the gym. With new found wedding dress motivation, I pushed myself to my limit. So much so that any thoughts of packing the rest of belongings vanished.

I find it disappointing that I don't feel that my weekend was productive when, in fact, I managed to get a lot accomplished. It's a bummer that, had I not set such high goals I would appreciate my productivity more. But the other side of that coin is that if I hadn't set those goals, far fewer items would have been crossed of my checklist.

Friday, August 8, 2008

**Warning: This post is kinda sad and way personal**

As I slowly pack up my apartment, I am trying to purge anything that is not necessary. I have historically had trouble getting rid of things that I think might be useful someday, such as the box full of old phone cords, cable connectors, AV cables, an AC adapter for a CD player that is no longer in my possession, the stack of 20% off coupons from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and a drawer full of really old, crusty make-up.

Last night, I tackled the three drawers of my nightstand. I don’t think I’d opened any of the drawers since I moved to Baltimore last September, so I psyched myself up to toss all of its contents. The top drawer was no problem, expired Tylenol, receipts from the past year from Safeway, the Long Term A lot at BWI, and the gas station around the corner. I was feeling great. Second drawer, not as much to purge there. I discovered the past three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on DVD, a box of band aids, and a book. I packed those in appropriate boxes in my spare room, which is now serving as a packing haven full of boxes, bubble wrap, and miles of packing tape. I was sure the bottom drawer was either empty or full of useless junk as the top drawer was.

But when I opened this bottom drawer, I saw a stack of paper. On top was a legal pad full of my dad’s distinctive scrawl. It was some notes he had written for me while I was job hunting the summer after I graduated from Scripps. Suddenly, memories of that summer flooded back to me. The day after I arrived home, a brand new graduate thinking I was prepared for adult life, my mom took a vacation. She went to San Francisco for three days to visit friends. Doesn’t sound like a very big deal, except that that week was the first week for my dad’s new chemotherapy regimen, which meant helping him into the car at 7am, sitting with him for the five hours he had to sit in the infusion room and distracting him from what I now understand to be the excruciating pain that cancer patients feel during chemo. The rest of the day was spent making him as comfortable as possible, bringing him meals, and trying to ignore the fact that we all knew he was dying.

I didn’t realize until that week how hard the past year and a half must have been for my mom. I knew that having cancer had taken over my dad’s life, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it had taken over hers too.

I spent the rest of the summer interviewing for jobs all over the great state of California. I made three trips to San Francisco, four to Los Angeles and two to San Diego. In between, I did everything I could to mentally escape from what was happening at home. It was the only time in my life that I wanted to go out every night, the only time that I wanted to be with a large group of people. I partied way too hard, refusing to admit that my escape tactics were not working. I started my first job at the beginning of September. I went home as often as I could to spend time with my family, knowing that soon we wouldn’t be a whole family anymore. When he died two months later, I thought none of us would ever recover. That was four years ago and I’m finally beginning to come out of the fog. And finally, sometimes, I am able to smile when memories of him pop into my head instead of cry. Like whenever I look across a parking lot, having forgotten where I parked, and I see my vanity plate “Go Mouse,” I smile and can almost hear him yelling it across the soccer field when I was five, or when I took SATs, or when I got my first real job.

Sitting there last night on my bedroom floor, I read my dad’s notes, his interview tips that have become second nature after four bouts of job searches. I don’t need to keep that legal pad, but I have a feeling that in every nightstand I have, long into adulthood and old age, it will sit quietly in the bottom drawer. And every time I move, I will be reminded of that summer and maybe eventually, I will sit on my bedroom floor and smile.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reflections of the Way Life Used to Be

Every morning I leave my house around 8:00, sometimes 8:15 if I’m running late. I drive about 2 miles before I pull into the parking garage across the street from my office. I get antsy when the mechanical arm takes too long to let me in and about half the time I can hear my tires screech as I rush to find the closest parking space. I pull into the first one I see (sometimes passing by a few spots that are too far from the stairs/elevator), I throw the car into park, yank up the parking brake, scramble out of the car and head for the stairs. I take the stairs mostly because the elevators in the garage are painfully slow, even from the 2nd level, where I usually am able to park, but I also use it as a pitiful excuse for physical activity on the days I skip the gym. But I digress.

Once I leave the parking lot, I carefully, yet somewhat speedily, make my way across the cobblestone street (in heels, no less!) and head through the double doors of my office building. The stairs are not an option for two reasons: 1) we’re on the fifth floor and I’m not so dedicated to my wedding dress weight loss plan that I’m going to arrive at work huffing and puffing and 2) once I actually made it to the fifth floor, unless someone had propped open the door to get out of the stairwell, I’d be SOL and have to go back down to the lobby and take the elevator anyways. Once in the elevator, I anxiously watch as my fellow passengers swipe their access cards and select their floors, hoping they are all going to the sixth floor and that we won’t have to stop at floors 2, 3, and 4 before I can walk to my cubicle, pop open a diet coke and log in to my computer to start my work day.

This morning, as I was rushing through this process so as not to be late for a 9am meeting (I got in at 8:15, but I just hate being late), I thought back to a simpler time, when mornings were not rushed and were actually enjoyable. When was this time, you may be asking. Perhaps it was in college? Nope, I never had morning classes so, for me, mornings did not exist for those four years. The time I’m referring to is high school.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t go back to high school if you paid me. So much drama, so little time. But back then, mornings were fun. I hated getting out of bed, just as I do now. But once I actually got to school, the routine was much more fun than my current one. I would not say that my group of friends was part of the “popular” crowd, but we had our routines and our habits. Every morning, those of us lucky enough to have our own cars (not me) and those who every now and then drove a parent’s car to school (sometimes me) would park in the north east corner of the north parking lot, leave the engine running to continue listening to music or morning radio shows. Groups of three or four would congregate in these cars (the carless would hop in to enjoy the shelter and warmth on a cold, rainy winter morning). We would sing along with the music, or chat about the various goings on in our lives until the first bell rang and we would scatter to first period.

We would reconvene in our little corner of the Bullard High world at lunch, balance lunches on the trunks of cars to enjoy the sun and chatting and flirting in a larger group. Some people would scramble to finish homework due in fifth or sixth period (not me, I don’t work well under pressure and stress). Everyone knew everyone’s business, because even the best kept secrets spread through whispers or notes between classes and we were all very close for the most part.

Most days, I love my grown up life and wouldn’t trade it to go back. But sometimes, I miss the camaraderie and the daily conversations with my closest friends. Too often I let days, weeks, and sometimes months go by without talking to the friends that I hold most dear to my heart as I rush through my work week and race around on the weekends, doing all the errands I can’t get to during the week.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Avoiding the Reality of Wedding Planning

Having just changed my official status to "engaged," I've discovered that in order to have a beautiful wedding with the pretty dress, color coordinated flowers, a yummy cake, and all of my loved ones present in the same room at the same time, I actually have to organize and plan that in order to make it all happen. Not that I didn't know that in the most logical sense, but now that it's a real thing that I have to actually do, I'm a little overwhelmed. So far, all I've done is some basic Googling of venues, dresses, and invitations. Oh and I've downloaded about 8 different checklists to follow during the planning process, should I actually ever truly begin.

For the time being, I'm using the excuse that I'm moving September 1 (a mere 27 days away) and I'm only 3/4 finished packing and I couldn't possibly start planning a wedding in the midst of all that moving stress. I am, however, fully aware that this is only an excuse and come September 6 or 7, when most of the boxes are unpacked, clothes are put away and dishes have been neatly organized, I will have to figure out where to start this monumental undertaking.

All of that having been said, this procrastination should in no way be taken as lack of excitement about marrying my best friend, who I've known since we were just 12. Way back in seventh grade, I never would have guessed I would end up spending the rest of my life with my lab partner, with whom I dissected a cat.

Of course, I could always take the easy way out and get married at Waffle House...