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 weddingchannel.com, 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...