I was in New Jersey all last week for work observing the pilot of a course I wrote. (The course I've mentioned in passing numerous times in the past month due to some crazy deadlines.) It went really well, the clients were exceptionally nice, and it was great to see "my baby" come to life after working so hard on it.
This was my first trip to New Jersey outside of flying into Newark airport ages ago. I took the train to and from Philadelphia, my first time to that city outside of flying into Philadelphia airport ages ago. The Acela takes just 90 minutes to get from the pseudo North of D.C. to the North North of Philly and NJ. (The fact that this amazingly historic city is so close, and that I've lived so close too it for more than 5 years and never visited, really is shameful. Absolutely shameful. Expect me to visit again for fun if the weather ever gets warm again.)
It was a long week full of long days. Eight hours of class filled with note taking and rearranging and decision making, followed by a quick dinner or crash on the bed, then an hour to two hour debrief with the facilitators, then a half hour of working out, and then a night of restless sleep. I'd brought movies, a loaded Kindle, and tons of blogging ideas because I was afraid of getting bored in the hotel room. Ha, no such luck. But again, it was more than worth it to see my work come to fruition. And to have it so appreciated and respected by a room full of trainers.
It was also interesting to be in a new place with a new client. Even if they were all Yankees. Here are some notes I took on that aspect throughout the week:
The train station in Philly is gorgeous:
I don't like Northern accents. At all.
Apparently eating corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's day is a thing people do.
No one mentioned basketball or brackets unless I brought them up.
Cab drivers in Philly are no better with directions and GPS than the cab drivers in D.C.
But cabs in Philly have a glass partition separating driver and passenger, credit card machines, and little informational TVs.
You don't have to pay to get in to New Jersey, but you have to pay to get out. (Cab driver added an additional $5 to my fare to cover the toll for when he drove back to the city. This toll was confirmed when I went back to the city on Thursday.)
The Hampton Inn cleans their duvet covers with each guest.
We had the option of a cupcake OR a cannoli at lunch. I, of course, took the cannoli. (And left the gun.)
I ate more meat than I will in a month at the Brazilian steakhouse we went to for a group dinner.
After long days full of people, this introvert took great pleasure in walking around Target for an hour.
Creamer and yogurt is packed at sea level and when it gets to Denver it bursts/explodes a bit when you open. (This was learned from some Denver-based participants.)
There are geese everywhere and thus geese poop everywhere.
This is the view from one of tallest buildings in Philadelphia:
And that's it for now. This week has the potential to be crazy as well as I make post-pilot changes. But at least I got a chance to relax this weekend as I partook in a whole lot of nothing.
"There was only so much trouble you could get into before the threat of more trouble wasn't even a threat anymore. At some point, you'd waded so far in you had no choice but to paddle through the middle, if you had any chance of making it to the other side."
-Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
This week I've been listening to a lot of my "Clapton et. al." playlist. (The et. al. because it includes songs he recorded as Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominoes.) Several years ago, Mom bought his autobiography, as well as the autobiography of Pattie Boyd, ex-wife to both he and George Harrison. They were both well-written, unfailingly honest, and entertaining.
While I initially mocked Mom for buying a book written by a "groupie," I immediately changed my opinion after reading about Boyd; she is not remotely a groupie. Aside from the fact that she is a talented artist and photographer in her own right, she also served as a muse to two of the greatest singer-songwriters of the past century and inspired four of the greatest love songs: "Something" by Harrison, and "Layla," "Wonderful Tonight," and "Bell Bottom Blues" by Clapton. The latter being my second favorite love song ever. (The first being "Crazy Love" by Van Morrison.)
If you know the song, or know its history, you may not consider it a love song; he wrote it for Boyd after he cheated on her. But I can't help it. I'm not a romantic person and have no patience for the flowery true-love-soul-mate-my-life-was-nothing-before-you stuff. It's just not realistic to me. I'm not saying cheating and writing a song is the way to go, but damn, he just sings it so painfully and so powerfully, I want him to crawl across the floor for me. (Even though, given my commitment issues, I'd probably run screaming in the opposite direction.)
I haven't felt the crawl-across-the-floor love in the romantic sense, but I do love people, my family and friends, who I've hurt a time or two. And I'd gladly crawl across the floor for them.
Do you want to see me crawl across the floor to you?
Do you want to hear me beg you to take me back?
I'd gladly do it because I don't want to fade away.
When I added this item to my list, I imagined opening a bottle with some friends and letting it explode, just for fun or maybe to celebrate something. That's not exactly what happened.
I've been working really hard on a project at work with tight deadlines. Yesterday I had a deliverable and at 7:00 was still in the office trying to get it finished and delivered. My office usually has several beers in the refrigerator and occasionally some wine for when we're especially stressed.
After PDFing files for 2 hours, and then having my computer suddenly decide Adobe wasn't installed anymore, I decided to search the kitchen for a drink and found a bottle of pink Prosecco. Success!
Last week I bought a mini bottle of champagne to celebrate another deadline and this weekend we had champagne at our wedding shower. Why do I mention these? Because I managed to open 3.5 bottles with little to no spillage. Just as I've opened several bottles in the past with little to no spillage. Until yesterday.
I followed the instructions I know, popped the cork – still don't know where that went – and champagne exploded all over the kitchen and me. It was all over my (cashmere) sweater, in my hair, and even in my ears. There was about 3 inches of it left in the bottle which I promptly poured in my glass and gulped while I cleaned up my mess.
The only other people in the office at the time were the cleaning ladies and two of my co-workers. I walked back to my desk to continue working like nothing had happened. Except, of course, for the fact that I appeared to be leaking champagne.
My officemate returned from dinner shortly after this, saw me covered in champagne, and exclaimed, "What in the hell happened here?" I guess it's not every day you walk into your office and see your normally conscientious coworker coated in alcohol. At least not on a Wednesday.
As I continued working I continued getting more and more sticky. My officemate offered me a tshirt he had at his desk so I changed into that for the metro ride home. It was an extra large, bright yellow, "Four Loko" tshirt, by the way. I made everyone in the office promise that if I was in an accident that they would publicly declare that I'm normally a fairly nice dresser.
Now I will cross this off my list, with a fat marker and a star, because I never need to experience this again.
If you read my last post and the pictures didn't show up, please try again.
"There comes a time when not doing something can hurt someone you love more than doing it can possibly hurt you."
-Val Lauder*, The Back Page: The Personal Face of History
*I'll likely mention this any time I post a quote from this book, but Val was my feature writing professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication** at UNC. I loved her and the class. The book is about her time at the Chicago Daily News.
**That's the proper name of the School. If we had of used anything but that in an article, we would have lost 50 points for a fact error.
Please excuse the blatant conspicuous consumption in this post. But I'm still exhausted from the busy, but wonderful, weekend and the exhaustion continues as I have another killer deadline tomorrow. So it's this or nothing.
There's something about being in LA, and being with fellow serious shopper Jan, that makes me want to shop, shop, shop. I actually controlled myself better this time than last, but still walked away with some pretty cool things. (Which were a lot easier to get home than you might think thanks to packing an extra, empty bag.)
First up, from a vintage store in Burbank, a lingerie pouch. The lace is a bit yellowed, which I love, and the inside is a perfect pink satin. I think lingerie in the past must have been a lot smaller or more delicate than my utilitarian cotton pieces from Victoria's Secret, but if anything can make them fancy, this will do it.
The next two things also came from a vintage store, this one in Santa Barbara. First was a German "Breakfast at Tiffany's" poster. As you can see, I already own English and Spanish versions, and I've been wanting German and Italian versions, too. Three down, one to go.
Now for what might just be my favorite thing ever. It's a random collection of old printing press letter blocks. Many of them still darkened black from the ink! I've been wanting some blocks for ages but didn't know what to spell or what to do with them. This mix of letters arranged in such an artful way solved the problem for me. I love that my eye is immediately drawn to "Go" and "God." I still haven't hung it up yet, but I just love to touch it and look at it.
Also in Santa Barbara, I bought this pretty freshwater pearl bracelet and this charming match box Nativity Christmas ornament. (I get an ornament anywhere I travel.)
Finally, the piece de resistance. An object I'm pretty sure I've coveted since I was 5 years old. A dinglehopper! That's right, it's a hairbrush made to look like a fork in honor of Ariel's misguided use of a fork thanks to Scuttle in "The Little Mermaid." (Aka my favorite Disney movie.) The folks at Disney Land were pretty brilliant in this creation, tapping right in to that inner part of me that has always wanted to brush my hair with a fork. (And actually may have, once or twice, with a plastic fork from my play kitchen.) The second best part about this object? (The first being the object itself, of course.) When the cashier rang it up he asked me, "So just the dinglehopper then?" Why yes, sir, I am a 29-year-old adult who has to pay rent and all, can't get too crazy.
I know, I suck. But in my defense I had a crazy deadline last week that had me taking my computer home every night and working over the weekend. But it was all worth it because the client loved the work and had minimal changes. Which never happens. Ever.
So get ready for a whole bunch of "Ooh, I should blog about this!" stuff from the past two weeks.
March Madness It's that time again! And even though my Heels have been up and down this year, lately they've been more up than down. This was the ladies and I watching the State rematch at B's.
Best. Trial. Ever. I've become completely obsessed with the Jodi Arias trial. It's just riveting and disturbing and amazing. I can't wait for it to become a Lifetime movie. She's just so clearly guilty and crazy. And, also, a guilty crazy liar! She's changed her story so many times on the stand, in ways I thought only happened on courtroom TV shows. If she isn't convicted, I will go to Arizona and protest outside the courtroom.
Wedding Fever, part 1 Karey and I are just in love with "Parks and Recreation" and the main characters Leslie and Ben. When they got engaged earlier this season I said we were going to throw a party for their wedding. Well, the wedding was a lot sooner than I expected, so no party, but we did have Funfetti cake and ice cream. If you don't celebrate the wedding of two fictional characters with a bestie/roomie, I feel sorry for you.
Jennifer Lawrence is perfection I'll join the throng of ladies who want to be her best friend. I have 3 best friends already, but I would really love her for a fourth. I think she'd work really well in our group. "The Book of Mormon" better be good. The play is coming to the Kennedy Center next year and I was in charge of getting tickets for me and two friends during their member presale. (I got a membership for my birthday, thanks parents!) A full 24 hours after they went on sale, after hours and hours of refreshing the site, and having the entire site crash, I finally procured three tickets for August. Whew.
Wedding Fever, part 2 On our first group trip to David's we settled on a bridesmaid dress. I don't know the rules about revealing wedding details on someone else's wedding, so I won't say which one, just that it's in one of the pictures and we love it.
Audrey, re-incarnated The sons of my idol, Audrey Hepburn, authorized a digitized Audrey for use in a British chocolate company commercial. I must say, I don't hate it. I actually kind of love it. It makes me wish I could have been alive, even just for a day, when she was at her peak in the 50s or 60s, so I could see her do things new.
Forgetful Fran I felt the need to name the forgetful side of me. Because when she shows up, she does it epically. Like the day last week I didn't have my wallet. The day that also happened to be "deadline" day. The day that also happened to be when I forgot my lunch. Oh, and also the day where I had no money on my metro card to get home. Thankfully, I have ample people in my life at work I knew I could lean on. One officemate gave me a $20 without hesitation, and another bought me a drink and dinner when I wanted to celebrate my deadline. (I gave him $20 the next day.) So Forgetful Fran became Grateful Gail.
Good and Bad Showers This weekend I'm very excited to go home to North Carolina for the wedding shower I'm co-hosting with my sister for our future sister-in-law. I'm not excited, however, for the snowstorm (not really a shower) we'll be getting tonite. In fact, I'm quite pissed about it. Please send me all your good travel vibes, if you will.