Wednesday, September 30, 2015

call him special agent matt

Well, the rest of the Pope weekend was uneventful for those of us in the Philadelphia suburbs.  Saturday was the perfect fall day, so I went for a long walk, got a fancy coffee, wandered the thrift store, went to Trader Joe's and Target, and ended at Burlington Coat Factory in search of a new pair of jeans.

I've been hearing that boot cut jeans are back in style, which is something I've been waiting for since about 2002.  However, there have been a lot of styles I've totally bought into and then later regretted.  I'm looking at you bubble shirts and parachute pants.  So I decided to text my sister just to make sure boot cut jeans really and truly are popular again, because if there's one thing Emily knows how to do it's give an honest opinion.

So I sent her a text that said, "When I say boot cut jeans, you think ____."

Do you know what she said?


Thanks Em.

In the end she assured me they were in style again, so I bought a pair and I can't remember the last time I was so happy with a purchase.

Speaking of purchasing things, I wore my new jeans the next day as we went house hunting.  Matt and I have looked at houses with our realtor a few times now, and each time has been significantly better than the first when I cried before we even left our apartment because WHAT IF WE PICK THE WRONG HOUSE AND RUIN OUR LIVES AND OUR FUTURE AND THE FUTURES OF THE NEXT GENERATIONS?

And Matt said, "Laur, take a deep breath, we're not buying a house today."

He was right, and I haven't cried since.  I just bring my little list of very important priorities along (window over the kitchen sink, good view of the sunset, and a nice patio or deck) and throw out as many HGTV terms as I can.

We ultimately didn't end up finding a house this weekend.  Matt and I both worked from home on Monday, and I tried to look at some more online listings that morning, but my internet was acting funny.  And then I tried to print something for work and discovered my printer wasn't working either,

I was so happy my very own IT guy was sitting on the couch and could employ a method other than my tried and true strategy of unplugging the offending device three times and saying a Hail Mary.

"My printer isn't working," I told Matt, "Could you take a look at it?"

"Sure," Matt said, "Although it may just have something to do with our wireless profile.  I had to update some information."

Well yes, that would explain it.  Evidently the information that had to be updated was the name.  And it didn't occur to me that I should connect to the FBI surveillance van internet.

Our future neighbors are going to think we are nuts.

At least I'll look cute in my new jeans.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I can only hope they will permanently change the city's name

Well, hello.  I'm coming to you live from the Pope's home away from Rome.

I wish I could take credit for the catchy "home away from Rome" slogan but I have to give the credit to local government who has put it on their website and every billboard in the area.

However, I do have tons of other papal puns and no audience for them because I'm the only member of my family who stayed in the Pope's home away from Rome this weekend.  Work was closed for my parents and Matt on Friday, so they all fled to the Jersey shore to escape the projected chaos in Philadelphia, and I'm still here holding down the fort and watching my parents' dog and bird.

Just when you thought my life couldn't get more glamorous.

In the end, the projected chaos didn't come to pass.  I had a meeting scheduled for late Friday afternoon about 25 miles from here, and I considered just calling in because I was anticipating the highways to be a mess.

I was so wrong.  There was no one driving.  It was a (holy) ghost town.

Growing up, I went to Catholic elementary school.  We didn't have a cafeteria, so we ate at our desks, and moms would volunteer to watch us in our rooms during lunch.  When I was in second grade, we had a nun as our lunch monitor once a week.  Her name was Sister Madeline, and I have no idea how old she actually was, but to my seven year old self she seemed like she was at least a hundred and five.

She was a teeny tiny old lady with round glasses and white curly hair peeking out of her habit.

And she was strict.

Sister Madeline used to grade our journals while we ate, and I will never forget the time she called me over to her desk in the middle of lunch.  I was a big time rule follower in second grade, so I know I wasn't breaking any of Sister Madeline's major lunch-related rules like throwing out the crusts of my sandwich or eating my dessert first.

As my nerves and I approached her desk, I saw it.

My journal.  And a red pen.

"Laura," she said, "this sentence that you wrote says, 'Time to come in for dinner,' my mom yelled.'  Your mother doesn't yell.  She calls."


Sister Madeline was also big on manners, and might be part of the reason my New Year's resolution in my journal that year was to put my napkin on my lap.

I can remember her telling us that you should always use your best manners and keep things neat and tidy just in case the Pope comes to town.

"Don't chew with your mouth open, what if the Pope drops by?"  

"Throw away all your trash and make sure to wipe your desk off, what if the Pope comes to town?"

I don't know if Sister Madeline is still alive, because according to my calculations she would be about 132 years old by now, but I thought of her Friday as I drove to my meeting down a highway I've driven hundreds of times.  On Friday, for the first time ever, there was a crew of about 50 PennDOT workers picking up trash in the median.

"Wow" I thought, "Is the Pope coming to town or something?"

And I laughed and laughed because yes he is and those highway workers must have had Sister Madeline as their teacher too.

I'll just be over here with my napkin on my lap all weekend.

You never know when the Pope is going to drop in.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

take me back

I know every is all excited about today being the first day of fall, but I'll be honest and share an unpopular opinion here that I do not love fall.  I think it's because every day is one day closer to winter, so I spend the season being filled with increasing dread.  I'm considering moving full time to the Excellence resort in Punta Cana until May, contingent upon the fact that I win the lottery.  Cross your fingers for me.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

i wish i had an atlas on hand

Well, I sat down to write this post on Thursday night but quickly became distracted by all things presidential debate.  And by that I mean talking back to the television, reading twitter, and texting Emily.

She's such a political junkie.

I won't tell you which side of the political spectrum I land on.  But let's just say that when Matt and I were packing for vacation two weeks ago I mentioned we needed to put something on our gray suitcase to set it apart from all of the other gray suitcases.  I was envisioning something along the lines of a cute bandanna tied to the handle or some colorful ribbons on the zippers.

Five minutes later Matt proudly said, "Mission accomplished."  I walked into the bedroom to see the suitcase with a giant NRA sticker front and center.

Life is full of surprises.

We were going to the Dominican Republic, specifically Punta Cana, for our vacation.  We booked the trip back in February and we looked online every few months since then to see how much a first class upgrade would cost.  Unfortunately it always cost way too many dollars, but as we were waiting at the gate an hour before takeoff, Matt said, "Just for fun, I'm going to ask the agent how much an upgrade would cost."  It turns out it's much cheaper if you wait until the last minute, so we upgraded to first class.

I pulled out the camera so I would be ready to document the whole fancy experience and that's when I made the unfortunate but well-timed realization that I'd only packed one part of the two part camera charger.

And then Matt traversed the airport to find an electronics stand where he found a universal charger that cost ten bucks on Amazon but at the airport cost "an arm an a leg."

Vacation is so relaxing.

But the money we spent to upgrade our tickets PLUS the money for the camera charger still didn't equal what a first class ticket cost three months ago, so in my mind, we technically saved money.

I'm all about a bargain.

But please enjoy the following photos of us in first class.  They were definitely not free.

I hate the taking off portion of an airplane ride so I was very on edge as we taxied down the runway.  Matt took the window seat and kept trying to make me feel better by telling me he took an aerospace class in college and some technical mumbo jumbo about airspeed above the wing and below the wing, but sitting in a metal tube with hundreds of other people launching into the atmosphere isn't my idea of a good time.  I closed my eyes and kept telling myself that flying in an airplane was safer than driving down 476 south at rush hour, which I do every day.

Once we got to cruising altitude I had a blast.

And a Bloody Mary.

Or two.

Our vacation was pretty much the following things on repeat:

Pina Coladas
Zip Lining
Horseback riding

And after a glorious eight days in Punta Cana, we landed back home in Philadelphia last Saturday night.

We got to baggage claim before our suitcases did and we weren't sure which direction the belt would rotate, so Matt went to one side and I went to the other so we would be ready for anything.  I got to my position and the woman next to me leaned over and whispered, "Excuse me, but do you know what state Philadelphia is in?"

Listen.  I actually looked around for a few seconds to see if I was on some sort of hidden camera prank show.  I didn't see any camera crews so I said, "Yes, I do.  It's in Pennsylvania."

"Oh thank you!" she said, "For the life of me, I just could not remember!"

She was from California.

When the man one the other side of me heard she was from California he said, "Wow, that's a long way from the Dominican Republic."  And she said, "Oh yes, it sure is.  But we were in Punta Cana."

I've never been more anxious to see an NRA emblazoned suitcase.

There's no place like home.

Or Philadelphia.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

with age comes wisdom. and i have lots.

Well, hello.  I'm coming to you live from vocal rest.

Of course, the vocal rest is completely self-imposed and not formally diagnosed by a medical professional, but on my way to work this morning I experienced sudden, severe pain in the vocal cord region during an overenthusiastic rendition of Uptown Girl.

I just can't hit those notes like Billy can.

Anyway, I've officially been 27 years old for one week now, so I thought I'd write a post about 27 things I've learned since I turned 27.

And then I realized that's a lot of things to learn in just seven days and I'm not that observant or ambitious.  So, since 7-2=5, please enjoy a more manageable list of 5 things I've learned since I turned 27.

1- In my younger years, I used to be able to stretch my birthday celebrations for several days on either side of my actual birthday.  Tonight, I got home from work and realized I'd not only forgotten to take something out for dinner, but also to run the dishwasher.  So my feeble attempt at dinner was to serve Matt a slice of leftover birthday cake that I'd cut with a steak knife.  On a paper plate.  With a soup spoon, our only clean utensil.  

I tried to sell it to Matt under the guise of "Isn't this so fun?! And festive?  Birthday cake on my one week birthday anniversary!  You can't possibly expect a girl to cook dinner on her one week birthday anniversary!" 

Fear not, after some creative thinking and a perusal of the freezer contents, we managed to scrape together meatball sandwiches.


2- My memory is going.  On my actual birthday, I left the house without my wallet.  The really unfortunate part was that I didn't realize I'd forgotten it until I was at the drive through window picking up the birthday beverage I'd ordered.  And then after work I drove seven minutes out of the way to go to the bank and pulled right up to the ATM.  

Without my wallet.  

Because I'd forgotten that I'd forgotten it.


3- I am suddenly using phrases that are popular among the more senior crowd.  I have three brand new colleagues, all of whom I believe are closer in age to my younger sister than to me.  During a conversation with two of them the other day I used the phrase "burr under the saddle," and one laughed and said, "That's my grandmother's favorite phrase!"


4- In a conversation with the third colleague and some others the following day, we were discussing the high schools and colleges we attended and when, and trying to figure out if we knew any of the same people.  She said, "Wow, you graduated in 2010?  You don't look like you'd be so old!" 

I am choosing to focus on the part that she thinks I appear youthful, not the fact that she thinks a 2010  college graduate is old.


5- I'm no longer into pop music.  When I'm not listening to Uptown Girl, I'm listening to Dan Fogelberg.  My current favorite is his 1981 hit, Leader of the Band.

Today I was thinking about how Michelle and I rented a place at the beach for Memorial Day weekend a few years ago because young! And carefree! And then we got down there and turned on the tunes and Michelle said, "Okay, here's a tough question.  In Leader of the Band, where did the singer's two brothers go?"

EASY, one went to Chicago, and the other to St. Paul.

So I think the final thing I've learned is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

As long as I bring my wallet along.

Monday, August 17, 2015

treadmills should come with air bags

I had to travel for work last week and had reservations at my standard hotel.  I checked in around 4:00 on Monday afternoon and was given directions to room 357 that did not include stairs because even though the hotel is under new ownership, the ground floor is still the third floor and I am still confused.

I settled into my room, and Monday and Tuesday nights were problem free.  However, when I returned to the hotel after my meeting on Wednesday, I noticed that I had no towels or washcloths to speak of, which was unfortunate because I wash my hands obsessively when I'm in a hotel and I had to dry them with the hairdryer.

After my hands were dry, I walked to the phone to call the front desk to rectify the towel situation, the air conditioner made a very loud pop and shut off.

Well, that's convenient.

No AC.

In a hotel room.

In August.

So, I called the front desk and let them know about the towel shortage and air conditioner explosion and was told someone would be right up.  And 45 minutes and 100 degrees later I asked Matt how long he thought was reasonable to wait for a repairman to come.

He said five minutes.


At that very moment a knock came at the door, and in came Barry the maintenance man with a giant cup of coffee and a can of spackle.  I don't know much about AC repair, but I was immediately skeptical of his tool repertoire.

After Barry gave the AC unit the once over, he said he was going to go downstairs to check the breaker.  Two minutes later, the air conditioner came sputtering back to life in a cloud of smoke and a blaze of sparks, accompanied by the smell of something burning.

It was like my own personal fireworks show.

Barry came back up and said, "Okay! It's all fixed!"

"There were lots of sparks," I said, "and do you smell that terrible smell?"

"Oh yeah," Barry said, "the smell is totally normal.  Since the unit has been shut off for a while, it's just the dust and chemicals moving around again."


Barry told me the room would be back in tip top shape in half an hour, so I decided to go to the hotel gym while I waited for my sauna to cool down and the smell to go away. Please note for the record that I travel for work about once a month and never have I ever used a hotel gym.  This was my first foray into the hotel gym arena.

And my last.

I found my way to the gym and hopped on a treadmill.  I set the speed at my standard 3.9 because, as I always say, why run when you can just walk?

And walk I did, until I was a mile in and humming along to Blake Shelton and the treadmill suddenly shut off.  I almost catapulted over the front because INERTIA.  And I was an object in motion.

I hopped right off that thing and sped back to my room only to discover that I still had no towels and the room had "cooled" to a brisk three hundred and twelve degrees.

After a few calls back and forth to the front desk, I packed my bags and waited for Barry to return with keys to a new room a few doors down.  I unpacked my bags in my new room and and put my slippers on and then went over to the AC to adjust the temperature, and this happened.

Where's the spackle when you need it?
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