Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I want you to want me

Due to our affinity for dropping everything on a whim and moving to far away lands, I currently find myself having been out of the workforce for about five years. When we moved to London we thought, "What a great opportunity to take a sabbatical of sorts and use my free time to volunteer and take classes and accompany Jason on work trips." So I did, and it was fantastic. What a novelty! Look at me, all late-twenties with no kids and not having to work!

Then we moved back to Raleigh and suddenly, the whole "not working" schtick wasn't so cute anymore. So I half-heartedly looked for jobs. But two things were in the back of my mind the whole time. 1) This is so not the best time to be looking for work. The economy is in tatters. And 2) As much as I was so excited to get back home to Raleigh, I kind of feel trapped in suburbia now. Reverse culture shock. In short, I realized I wasn't so sure I was ready to settle back down here.

We both felt restless. Like we hadn't quite gotten our fill of European travel and the joys of having one of the world's greatest cities at our fingertips. There was a general feeling that this was just a break between adventures. And I didn't want to start a new job knowing there was every chance I wouldn't be there very long so I aborted the job search completely. We tossed ideas around. Back to Europe? Something different this time? Asia? We knew it wasn't 100% our choice. It came down to what opportunities were available to Jason.

We all know by now that the opportunity turned out to be Europe again. Belgium. Brussels. It was perfect, we thought. Three months. Just enough time to immerse ourselves in European culture and travel again. We'll get another little taste and then be ready to settle back in Raleigh properly. We all know by now that three months turned into seven months. And as much as we enjoyed this gift to the fullest and made the absolute most of our time there, we were really ready to get back home.

And now that we're here, guess what. We've realized that we are really truly ready to stay this time. We're happy. Settled. Comfortable.

And I really want to work. In fact, through my own networking, I found an opportunity in my dream industry, with my dream organization. Plus, it's a job I know I can do. And I mean do well. Very well. I've never wanted a job the way I want this one. I feel like jumping up and down, waving my arms around and pleading "Pick me! Over here! I'm the best! Pick me! Pick me!"

See, I know that no one else would be as proud to work for this organization as me. I know that no one else would work harder than me. I know that no one else could do this job as well as me. I know that no one else is a more perfect fit for this job than me. I just want them to know it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stop! Thief!

Even though I'm not currently working, I get up and get my day started with Jason every morning so we can have coffee and spend some time together before he gets wrapped up in work. Usually, he starts waking me up after he gets out of the shower and by the time he's dressed and ready I'm typically gaining consciousness. Yesterday morning, for some unknown reason, I woke up while he was in the shower and was immediately wide awake. So I got out of bed, headed to the kitchen and started emptying the dishwasher - evidently, not quietly. I hear the shower turn off and a few minutes later, the bathroom door open.

Jason: What are you doing up already?!? You scared me! I thought someone had broken in and was stealing our dishes!

Me: Our dishes are not that nice.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bacon and the City

Okay...so....where was I? Let's see... That would be Raleigh to Williamsburg, Williamsburg to Charlotte, Charlotte to Raleigh and Raleigh to Philadelphia. Let me check...

Yes, that certainly appears to be Philadelphia.

I had a grand ol' time in Philly. I lunched with a friend, Liz, and her two preshus littles. I sipped coffee in the executive lounge. I surfed the internet by the fountain in the hotel lobby. I window shopped. I got my nails did. Jason and I ate delicious Asian food and had fancee cocktails at Buddakan. And we went to a local bar and watched the Flyers beat the Canadiens to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, surrounded by A LOT of people wearing orange. (Then, hilariously enough, we ran into a guy in the bar at the hotel wearing a Hurricanes hat. This one - modeled previously by Elwin Kitteh. I was all "Holler Raleigh! High five! Let's go 'Canes! Whoop whoop!") Then, it was time to move on.

So, on the morning of Thursday the 27th of May I had a taxi drop me off here. Now if you didn't know better, would you not think that perhaps this was a museum? Or possibly a library? Or maybe a grand old government building of some sort? I would. But I'd be wrong.

Because this lovely building is merely a humble train station. That's one thing I love about the northeast. Most of the major cities have a beautiful train station. Philadelphia is no exception.

A few hours later and I was being picked up in Connecticut and taken for lunch and an iced coffee and finally to my home for the next few days. Candy took up residence in my room (actually, I think it would be more accurate to say that I took up residence in her room) for the duration of the stay. At first I thought she was just being sweet but the way she kept her eyes on my every move makes me think she was planted there by the innkeepers to make sure I didn't steal anything.

On Saturday, Rino made sure we were well fed for our journey and rustled up some McChiefs (read all about the War of the Breakfast Sandwiches here) and then we took off for our big adventure, arriving at one of the most famous train stations in the world.

And, dare I say, the most beautiful...

A few subway changes later and we were finally at our hotel, The Maritime. A very hip little place indeed. When we checked in the girl asked us if we wanted a smoking or non-smoking room, to which I replied "I didn't even know smoking rooms still existed." And she said "Well, we keep them because they're rather popular with the fashion people who stay here." Fashion people, you say! Well, la-tee-dah!

In case the name didn't tip you off, it's a sort of 1920's-ish cruise ship themed place. We even had our very own porthole!

(Let me take this opportunity to tell you that I had a few pictures of our room on my iPhone but I can't share those with you unless the wanker that JACKED it decides to email them to me and I think the chances of that happening are about as good as me going for a nice long jog this afternoon when the thermometer hits 98 degrees. But trust me, the whole room looked like it was plucked right off an art deco ocean liner and dropped into the Meatpacking District.)

With bags dropped off and makeup refreshed, we two gals hit the town. We didn't make it very far though since attached to The Maritime was a super cute little cafe serving brunch. So we fortified ourselves with bacon and bellinis. (Considering this place is popular with the fashion set, I wonder if they knew what to do with someone who ordered bacon.)

Next up was the main event, the reason for the season, the meat in the sandwich of this trip, the sequel girls around the world have waited for...

(We agreed in our reviews: we liked the first one better but it was still fun to reconnect with the characters.)

And later, it was ladies night...oh what a night. We eased up this time around though and set a few ground rules. 1 - Drink a glass of water between every cocktail. 2 - NO COSMOPOLITANS OR ANYTHING SERVED IN A MARTINI GLASS FOR THAT MATTER.

We both realized we had a hankerin' for Mexican food and we lucked upon a very good place in the Meatpacking District. We started with chips and a trio of salsas: mild, medium and death. But the thing about the salsa of death is that it was so tasty that we couldn't stop eating it. We tried all sorts of techniques to lessen the fire. Beth came up with a pretty good one - chew it only on one side of your mouth so that you contain the burn somewhat. Yet, she still feared every bite.

After dinner, we decided to try our hand at getting into a very exclusive club. The Gansevoort hotel had a massive queue and a surly, clipboard-wielding doorman. Plus, we really wanted to see the view from the rooftop bar. Why not? We got in line. And waited. And stood there shifting from foot to foot to try and alleviate the pain of 4-inch heels. And tried to look like we didn't care if we got in or not. And lo and behold if surly clipboard man didn't pull us out of line and whisk us inside. We were IN! The music? Was obnoxious and way too loud. The crowd? Was trying way to hard. The vodka tonics? Were astronomical. And the view? Outstanding.

After knocking back a couple of outrageously priced cocktails, we decided to quit while we were ahead and make our way back to the hotel. Where we raided the mini-bar and found some most interesting items for sale. Just what kind of place have you brought me to, Beth?!? (Suffice it to say we giggled and squealed like fourth graders at this discovery...and a few others. Yes, there was a finding far more risque than this one. I'll let you speculate amongst yourselves.)

And wow. What a difference a couple of years makes. This time around we woke up with clean faces free of the previous night's makeup, in proper pajamas instead of our party clothes, without headaches and actually able to face the day.

At the top of the list was a stroll through Central Park. Because as many times as I had been to NYC, I had never once walked through here.






And a ride on the merry-go-round was most definitely in order. Because we're seven years old.



A few more NYC landmarks...



And our trip was complete. We slumped into our seat on the train and dozed our way back to Connecticut.

The rest of it was all pretty tame. Until the fateful day when I was relieved of my iPhone. What kind of degenerate attends a small-town Memorial Day parade and jacks someone's iPhone??? We don't have any real leads but I'm hearing reports that a human with an Elmo head was seen running away from the scene of the crime, pushing a stroller. I think I know where this guy lives.

P.S. I would love to show you a precious photo of Beth and little Aidan having lunch al fresco at a wonderful Jewish deli in Westport (swear to the Lord, most amazing pastrami on rye evah) but I don't have it because...I don't know if you've heard, but...MY iPHONE WAS JACKED.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heather Takes On: The World Cup

Before I continue on with documenting the Epic Adventure, I need to get something off my chest. I warn you now. This will not be a popular opinion. And I'm 100% totally okay with that. I will probably get some nasty comments. And I'm okay with that too. That's why comment moderation exists. So, bring it on if you must. I'm a big girl and I can take it.

Here goes...

Professional soccer is the worst sport in the world.

There. I've said it. (Cue the angry mobs.) Now, I'll back it up.

First of all, so far in the World Cup, how many games have ended in a draw? SEVERAL. Even worse, a nil-nil draw. Holy what??? Listen up, FIFA. If I'm going to sit down and invest a couple of hours in watching a match, I would really very much like to have AN ACTUAL WINNER at the end of it. I'm sorry but any sport which simply calls it a day without deciding a proper victor is no sport to me. I mean, isn't that kind of the whole point of sport? Competition? Give me a clear winner or give me hockey*.

*(A sport, in which, during its playoffs, decides a tie in the most spine-tingling fashion possible: sudden death overtime. Not many things are more exciting than sitting on the edge of your seat during the extra period, just waiting with bated breath for one team to end it all for the other. Sudden death for one team; sudden life for the other. Now that's sport.)

Secondly, how sick and tired am I of watching all the dives taken by soccer players? Very. All this falling to the ground and flailing around holding one's shin with pained looks on their faces (while surreptitiously looking out of the corner of one eye to make sure the ref is watching) is getting rather tiresome. And by rather tiresome, what I actually mean is REALLY FREAKING OLD. Listen up, soccer players. MAN UP. You look like a toddler lamenting his first fall off a tricycle. Perhaps all your mommies should hang out on the sidelines, ready to dole out kisses and bandages? Would that make you feel better? Seriously, just MAN UP. Give me toughness or give me hockey players.*

*(Athletes who, by the way, can take a frozen piece of vulcanized rubber traveling at 87 mph to the face, spit out a few teeth, go to the locker room to get their nose sewn back on and come back out and score a goal. Shorthanded. Now that's a man.)

And finally, France. France, I do love your delicious cheeses and velvety wines but get over yourself. For starters, you shouldn't even be participating in the World Cup. (It should be Ireland instead. Google it.) You didn't deserve your spot. And now, you're squandering this unfairly gifted opportunity away because one of your players threw a strop and refuses to apologize and the team is refusing to practice because of it. Really?? Really, France??? Wow. This is supposed to be world class football. Not a cheerleading competition where a girl pitches a fit when she's not allowed to wear her hair down. Listen up France, untwist your knickers and play like men.*

*(No I don't have a hockey related counter point here. You know why? Because nothing even remotely similar to this would EVER HAPPEN IN THE NHL. Primarily because the teams that make it into the playoffs are decided by actual numbers instead of a "governing body".)

And don't even get me started on the blown call against the USA, which resulted in yet another draw when it should have been a solid win. At this point, I'm thinking FIFA is about as corrupt as the Bangladesh government.

All this said however, I will be watching on Wednesday morning when the US takes on Algeria. Because I want to see some redemption after that joke of a match versus Slovenia. Because I'm an American. And there's nothing us Americans like more than a good comeback story.

(As a side note, I've got an England jersey for sale if anyone wants it. No? Not a single taker? Think about it...it'll make for an excellent fire starter on those blustery July days that are bound to come. Ahhh, the British summer. What, still no?)

Monday, June 14, 2010

iHeather

So...The Thing. I promised to tell you about The Thing. But the thing about The Thing is that it's a pretty BFD in Heatherland...but to nonreidents of Heatherland...decidedly less so. Yet, I tell you anyway.

Let me start with an open letter to Alanis Morissette:

Dear Alanis,

First of all, let me just say thanks for Jagged Little Pill. That album rocked my world and came out at the perfect time in my life - the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. I was a hot mess in the latter half of 1995 (and, if I'm honest, most of 1996 as well) and had it not been for Jagged Little Pill, I would have had to put on my big girl panties and deal with it. As it were, I felt completely justified laying around, first in my childhood bedroom and later in my dormroom, and listening to your angst-filled music. So truly, I thank you for that and I'll never forget you for it.

But now that's out of the way, I would like to point out (as many before me have done) that rain on one's wedding day is not irony. Neither is a traffic jam when you're already late. Nor is a black fly in your chardonnay. All those things suck, for sure. But, ironic they are not. Let me tell you what's ironic.

Isn't it ironic...don't you think...a little too ironic... when you write a big long dramatic blog post about how, en route to the airport for a week-long trip, you thought you forgot your iPhone and totally freaked the eff out and when it miraculously turned up in your husband's briefcase you were so happy you almost cried except you decided to laugh nervously and make a joke about being too dependent on technology and then it turns out that on the last day of your trip your iPhone gets STOLEN.

That, Alanis, is irony.

Yours always,
Heather

And here I am. iPhoneless. Without iPhone. In other words: utterly lost. Yes I know I lived without it for about 31.5 years of my life but once you've experienced the iPhone, nothing else is the same. You know what they say. Once you go Mac, you never go back.

Thanks to Beth's husband Rino, I have a phone. He loaned me an old one and took me to AT&T to get a sim card for it so I got to keep my number and everything. But my iPhone was so much more than a phone. My life was in that phone. The address book, the calendar, the photos, the music... Luckily, I had just synced while I was in Philly so my music, address book and calendar were all on my PowerBook. (For some reason, I stupidly decided to not sync my photos so they're gone.)

Once I got home, Jason and I discussed what to do. Replacing the iPhone right away just wasn't an option because to get one at a remotely reasonable price I would have to use my upgrade with AT&T. And if I use my upgrade now, I'll have to pay full price for the iPhone 4 when it comes out in a few weeks. (We were already planning on upgrading to the new iPhone, before this happened.) Considering full price will be $599, versus $199 using the AT&T upgrade, I think it's worth it to just ride this out.

But what about the meantime? What will I do? No mobile access to my calendar! No mobile access to my mail! No mobile access to my address book! Quel horreur!

And cue the iPad. Otherwise known as The Precious v2.0.

We got on the waiting list at both area Apple stores and by the end of the week, we had the little beauty in our mitts. Thin! Shiny! Pretty! I love it! Hook that badboy up and sync it, Jason! Sync to your heart's content! Sync till you've nothing left to sync! Sync! Sync! Sync!

Several quiet minutes later: How's that sync coming along, Jason?!? I want to see my calendar on that thing! Show me the sync! Sync! Sync! Sync!

No answer.

Umm, Jason? Sync? Please? Please to have sync? Sync? Sync? Sync?

Sync?

No sync.

You see, we bought our PowerBook waaaaaay back in 2005. In tech years, that's the Paleolithic Era. In short, new and old are not compatible. iPad y PowerBook no es amigos.

What to do?

The way we see it, we have two options:
1. Return the The Precious v2.0 and just deal with it.
2. Get a new laptop.

That's a trick. Because the first one really wasn't an option. Because I was already in luuurrrrve with the The Precious v2.0. There was no way I was taking it back. You just try and pry it out of my cold, dead, kung-fu grip. I dare you.

So, by process of elimination... Hellllllloooooooo MacBook Pro! Now, before you get all "These people are nuts! Who goes around buying expensive new toys when one expensive toy has been stolen and yet to be replaced????", let it be known that we had every intention of upgrading our Mac in August of this year. So this merely pushed up our plans by a few months.

I am almost whole again. Some retail therapy goes a long way towards the healing. Come June 24, all shall be right with the world.

Next up, the Epic Adventure continues...

P.S. Thank you Suze for inspiring the title of this one. I initially had a slightly less PG one in mind...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

So you think you can dance?

I know. It's been a while. You see, I returned from my Epic Adventure and for some reason, felt utterly and completely overwhelmed by all that awaited me back in the real world. So I started by doing what any reasonable person would do.

I parked myself on the sofa and waded through the pile-up of shows on my DVR. It was a certifiable trash-fest. (And, by the by, The Countess is right. Money can't buy you cla-ass. She needn't look any further than her own mirror to see that.)

And when my DVR had been cleaned out, I started in on Totally Unnecessary Cleaning. I took apart the Cuisinart Grind n' Brew and scoured each and every individual part. I dug into that thing with such gusto that my arm almost got stuck in the water reservoir. Oh yes, then I cleaned the Dyson piece by piece. You read that right. I CLEANED MY VACUUM CLEANER.

And then there's the whole Other Thing. The Thing which I'm going to write a whole post about next. So I'm not going to tell you about That Thing just yet. But, OMG was it ever A Thing. (It was so much A Thing that it needed Inappropriate Capitalization.)

But, for now...let's talk about another thing. The thing I warned you about. You've had more than enough time to prepare yourselves for the cuteness but I fear you still may not be ready. Because, hello? HOW CUTE IS THIS???

Do you not just want to top her with a cherry and eat her right up? I happened to arrive in Charlotte in time to go to Anna's dress rehearsal so I was able to get some good close up pics.

Anna's routine was to The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music and my favorite part was the "yodelayhee...yodelayheehoo" bit. For the yodelayhee, they cupped their hand around their ear and leaned over to listen.

And for the yodelayheehoo, they put their hands up to their mouths like they were calling out. Not that I'm biased or anything but I'm pretty sure Anna knew the routine better than anyone else. And she delivered it with such flair. Like I said...not biased at all.

After the dress rehearsal, Amy and I took Anna to school for her class's end of year party. Anna was evidently excited I was coming because she told her teacher "My aunt Heather is coming to my party and you don't need to be shy with her."

Honestly, I think the excitement was moreso due to Anna getting her equal treatment. On my first full day in Charlotte, I went to Katie's school for lunch and then went back and picked her up early to go see Wicked. (Which, by the way, was a huge hit with her. The look on Katie's face when Elphaba "flies" during Defying Gravity was priceless.)

So Anna was feeling a tad dejected because, as she told her nanny, I was "doing everyfing wif KATIE". But her nanny kept telling her that although today was Katie's day with me, tomorrow would be her day with me. So everything is EQUAL. And in a pre-schooler's world, especially a pre-schooler trying to keep up with her big sister, that means all is right with the universe. So on Friday, she kept saying "It's MY day with Heather. All the attention is on ME."

And was it ever. She made sure of that. Also, blue popsicles are a huge hit with the preschool set.

Saturday was the big day for the actual recital and Anna was pretty amped. She must have run up and down this walkway a hundred and fifty times.

Unfortunately, Katie's dress rehearsal was the day before I got into town so my only photos of her are during the actual show, and therefore not very good. This was Katie's final performance as a dancer as she's decided to focus on soccer going forward. That kid LOVES soccer and she's really good at it so she's going to play on a competitive team (as opposed to the "for fun" league she's been in). In fact, she started the morning playing her last soccer game of the season. Jason and Joe went to pick her up halfway through the match and dashed her over to the auditorium for the recital.

She was soaking up the flowers and accolades after the performance.

And then soaked up some Oreos.

On Sunday, Jason and I hit the road back to Raleigh but decided to stop off in Greensboro for a bite. Yum Yum is closed on Sundays so we went to hit up another Greensboro institution - Ham's. And color us shocked. After 75 years of awesome sandwiches, the original Ham's has closed its doors. All that was left was this mural on the side of the building.

Sad though we were, we were still hungry. So we made our way downtown to Natty Greene's. (I very highly recommend the Carolina burger. Beef patty topped with cole slaw, chili, pickles, and cheese = OMG.)

With full bellies, we got back on the road and made it back to Raleigh just in time to do laundry and repack our bags for our flight to Philly the next morning. (And I think we all know how that kicked off.)

Till next time...