Sunday, February 15, 2015

at least if i get lost in may, it will be warm outside

On Wednesday I had to go to a meeting in Center City, Philadelphia.

I considered taking the train, and even looked at the train schedule and consulted Matt about the location of the train station, the meeting, and the complexity of the navigation in between the two.

In the end, I decided to drive because I figured that at least if/when I got lost I’d be sitting in my warm car instead of wandering around in the cold, windy air.

I am all about comfort.

However, I was still a bit of a nervous wreck because if there is one thing I hate, it’s driving in the city. 

I prefer driving in the suburbs. 

With light to moderate traffic.

And no adverse weather conditions.

The meeting was at 1:00, and just 18 miles from my office.  Naturally, I left at 11:15, automatically factoring in an extra hour or so for the lovely combo of traffic and mistakes.   

Much to my delight, I made it to the city and parked in a Philadelphia Parking Authority garage with no trouble at all.  The meeting went even better than expected, and I walked out of that office building feeling like I was on top of the world.  

Unfortunately, things took a turn about ten minutes later when I realized the parking garage was undergoing major construction and the lanes were all mixed up.  I pulled out of my spot and promptly misinterpreted the lane to which the “EXIT” sign was pointing, and wound up driving the wrong way in a one way parking garage.

People were honking at me.  And flashing their lights.  And I just wanted to scream “I KNOW.  I REALIZE THAT I AM DRIVING THE WRONG DIRECTION.”

Eventually, and I do meant EVENTUALLY, I turned myself around.  It took a little while and a lot of maneuvering because the parking spaces were slanted so that they were aimed at people driving the correct way. 

I was never more thankful for my tiny Ford Focus and my sweet steering wheel agility.

Last night I got an email about the next meeting.

It’s scheduled for May, so I guess I better buy my train ticket.

(P.S. The meeting was in the same building as this one was a few years ago.  I am happy to report that I did not have any trouble with the elevators this time around.) 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

if i saw a penguin on the african savannah, i'd say more than oh my gosh

When Michelle and I we were roommates, we watched the show Shark Tank on a regular basis while lying around on the couch and going on and on about inventions that could have caused us to strike gold if only we'd pursued them and/or had an original idea that wasn't already in existence.

Like Michelle's idea for the iPod.

And the plot line for the TV show 24.

And the automatic card shuffler.

Basically, if it weren't for Steve Jobs, the Fox television network, and casinos, Michelle could be retired and a living a life of leisure by now.

Our favorite shark was Robert Herjavec, because of his blue eyes and wisdom and way of being kind but honest with contestants.  He also had a way with words, and our absolute favorite line was, "Don't mistake my kindness for weakness."  To this day, it's one of our favorite phrases.  We can find a way to humorously work it into any situation and text it to each other at least once a week.

Well, I am watching the Grammy's and during their duet, Rihanna and Kanye West just sang, "All of my kindness, is taken for weakness."

All I have to say is that clearly Michelle and I know genius when we hear it.

Also, hope you copyrighted that phrase, Bob.

On a Grammy related note, Sam Smith has just made his way to the stage to accept his fourth award of the evening and this is the first I'm hearing of him.  I've never felt more out of touch.

Perhaps that has a little something to do with the fact that I strictly listen to Pandora, and my stations consist of the following:

Those stations pretty much sum me up, from Dan Fogelberg to Disney classics.

Matt and I babysat our friends' little boy, Leo, this weekend, and last night at about 6:30 we were suffering from a case of "there's still HOW LONG until bedtime?" So Matt told Leo he'd turn on the happy song so he could dance.

Naturally, I was expecting "If You're Happy and You Know It" because, HELLO, OUT OF TOUCH, but Matt turned on Pharrell Williams' "Happy" since it's 2015 and evidently, he's in tune with pop culture.

And it was a crowd pleaser.

So much so that after about twelve times I suggested we give something else a try and Matt turned on a medley of the top ten Disney songs of all times.

That was also a crowd pleaser, if by crowd, you mean me and Matt.  Leo had zero interest.  But the two of us we paid close attention to that countdown and when number one came on the screen, we were both so thrilled that it was Circle of Life from The Lion King that we broke into song.

Since the first thirty seconds or so are sung in an African language, I usually just do my best to mimic the words as best I can until we can get to the English part.  And as I did that last night, I looked over at Matt on the couch, chanting with all the seriousness in the world,

"Oh my gosh, a penguin and a llama."
"Oh my gosh, a penguin and a llama."
"Oh my gosh, a penguin and a llama."

Because for his whole life, that's what he thought they were singing.  And we laughed until I could hardly catch my breath and all day today Matt would look at me and sing "Oh my gosh, a penguin and a llama," and it would crack me up all over again.

So maybe I'm not as out of touch as I thought.

And if I am, I'm in good company.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

ice ice maybe

Well, I had plans to meet my friend Rose for lunch today, but woke up to an unexpected ice storm and all of the news stations were warning viewers to STAY HOME! DO NOT DRIVE ON THE TREACHEROUS ROADS!  After a few phone calls Rose and I decided that as delicious as the P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps are, they weren't worth the risky driving.  So we postponed our lunch date until next weekend and Matt I hunkered down all day.  It was the kind of day when I showered and got right back into pajamas, and the only reason to get up from the couch was to walk to the kitchen for a snack.

(Update: We were going a little crazy by mid-afternoon, so we drove to Sam's Club since it had warmed up outside.  We bought sandwich bags, two bottles of V-8 Splash, coffee creamer, and a broom.  I don't know how we were surviving without those items.

((Don't worry, I did change out of my pajamas for the outing.))

Speaking of ice, Matt and I went ice skating with my brother and his wife a few weeks ago.  That is remarkable because one of my biggest fears in life is maneuvering on ice.  Either on my feet or in my car.  I hate it all.  I am a girl who prefers dry surfaces and plenty of reliable traction.

Michelle loves to tell the story about how I left for class one morning during our junior year of college and she left our apartment a good twenty minutes later.  And who did she pass on College Avenue but ME.  I guess you could say that I was TAKING.  MY.  TIME.

Matt and I arrived at the skating rink first, and as we laced up I wondered aloud about who the first person was to say, "Hey, I've got a jackpot idea.  Why don't I attach a very thin blade to the bottom of my shoe and then slide around on this ice?"

Matt listened and then said, "I'm not sure, but right now I'm really wishing I didn't get rid of my skate hook."

I'm sorry, your what?

Evidently, Matt was quite the ice skater back in his youth and even had his own skates and a hook to lace them up nice and tight.  He would lace those skates up on Friday nights in 2001 and rule the rink.

This was all BREAKING NEWS to me, and suddenly I felt even more self-conscious about my atrocious skating skills because even though I told Matt to set his expectations for my skating abilities pretty low, I wasn't sure he was prepared for quite how horrendous I was going to be.

As the clock struck 7:40, the gates opened up for free skate and I managed to get myself from the floor onto the ice all while staying upright.

My sister in law was a figure skater back in the day, so she glided out of that gate and around the ice so effortlessly that it was like Michelle Kwan herself had graced us with her presence.  My brother was surprisingly coordinated on the ice for being a six foot seven guy who, on the ordinary day, is marginally to exceptionally clumsy.  And Matt was shaky for the first few seconds but then his skills from 2001 came right back to him because off he skated.

And then there was me, propelling myself around the rink by cautiously pulling myself along the boards.  After he finished his first lap, my brother skated up to me and said, "Laur! You're ice skating with your arms!"

As Matt approached, I push myself off the boards and right into him.  And I did not let go for the rest of the night.  I gained some confidence after a few laps (aka I was moving my feet a little here and there instead of just having Matt pull me along), and Matt said, "Now that we're going a little faster, make sure that if you fall, you clench your hands into fists so that your fingers don't get sliced off by the blade of a passing skater."


Just as he shared that positive little gem, we came upon a man pulling himself on his stomach to the exit gate with a trail of blood behind him.

Matt shook his head and said, "...and that's why you need to clench your fist..."

The good news is that I managed to stay upright the entire evening and left with all ten fingers!

Today's ice/rain storm has created a pond behind our apartment.  When I looked out the window a little bit ago, I saw two ducks swimming around.  Once Matt learned about our new neighbors he headed out onto the balcony with his new duck call and had himself a little practice session.

It's supposed to get very cold tonight, so the "pond" will likely be a sheet of ice by tomorrow morning.  Perhaps I should go buy a pair of skates and get myself out there for a practice session too.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

i like years that end in 5

Well, 2014 sure was good to us.

And this morning, we welcomed 2015 by waking up early, drinking healthy smoothies for breakfast, going to the gym for an hour, and not making any unnecessary purchases because NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS.

Oh I kid.

We slept in, had leftover buffalo chicken dip for breakfast, forgot about the gym, and Matt bought himself a headlamp that he doesn't really need but is just delighted with, and wore it all evening.

And we took a walk in the woods.

So far so good, 2015.

Monday, December 22, 2014

let's hope we don't need to buy a car for quite a while

On Saturday afternoon I went out with my mom and Mommom to help my uncle decorate his house for Christmas and then run some errands.  I got home around 4:30 and promptly sat down on the couch and fell asleep.  Evidently decorating and walking around the grocery store can really wear a girl out.

At some point mid-nap I heard Matt's voice say, "Do you feel like going to look at bedroom furniture?"  I thought maybe I was in the midst of a wonderful dream, but I opened my eyes and sure enough there was Matt's face, a few inches from mine and staring right back at me.

Well.  I shot up off that couch and ran to the closet to get my purse and in all of my excitement I blinked a contact lens right out.  As I searched the floor for the missing contact and the medicine cabinet for some eye drops, Matt said, "Don't rush, I'll be a few minutes.  I have to go put on my ......." and here is where I naturally assumed he was going to say "shoes" or "jacket."

No.  Do you know what he had to put on?

His negotiating pants.

I don't even know what that means.

Actually, I found out what it means when he walked into the bedroom and pulled the jeans that he'd worn to go duck hunting that morning out of the hamper and said, "Be honest, how bad do they smell?"

Since Matt owns only ONE PAIR OF JEANS (I KNOW-we are going to remedy that in the new year) I told him they smelled positively fresh as a daisy because I was not about to let some poorly planned wardrobe situation ruin my chance to get a new bedroom set.

On the drive to the furniture store, Matt, aka the self proclaimed King of Deals, outlined his strategy.  When he was all finished he said, "You just have to promise me one thing.  That you won't get mad if we walk out because they don't throw in a free box spring.  It's all part of my strategy."

And this is the part where I thought it might just be easier to continue sleeping in our low bed.

When we got to the store, an older salesman named Joe greeted us and gave us some information and told us to enjoy our shopping.  We looked and looked and looked and finally decided on the set we liked, and Joe came over to check on us.  He and Matt discussed bundle pricing and discounts and Matt must have said "Joe" no less than fifty thousand times.

"Joe, could you tell me how much it would be to add the dresser instead of the chest of drawers Joe?"

"Joe, that's great, thanks Joe.  Now, Joe, can we talk box springs Joe?"

As Joe walked away to get a price on box springs I whispered, "Can-you-please-stop-saying-Joe-so-much?"

"Just try to go with it," Matt said,  "It's a negotiating technique."

Joe came back and gave us the news that a mid-grade queen size box spring would cost $139, but if we did buy it, he would give us 10% off the rest of the furniture.  I'm no math whiz but I know 10% off is better than no percent off so just SHOW  ME MATT WHERE TO SIGN.


However, the King of Deals cramped my style when he said, "WOWEE, ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE DOLLARS, JOE?  Joe, I'm going to be honest with you, I have never paid that much for a box spring Joe."


Although between my "I just woke up half an hour ago" look and the sad state of Matt's negotiating pants, we probably did look like $139 could make or break us.

Joe laughed nervously and said, "Well, that's actually a pretty good deal for a decent quality box spring.  Can I ask you when was the last time you bought one?"

NEVER, JOE.  We currently sleep on very low bed that requires only a mattress and no box spring.  Which is the very reason we are here this evening.

Because Matt is no easy sell, he told Joe we needed a minute to think things over and we walked back to the easy chair section so Matt could Google the going prices of box springs and I could rock and recline furiously and tell Matt about my plans to stage a coup if he denied that offer.  I've been sleeping a mere eight inches off the floor for the better part of a year now.  I'd pay TOP DOLLAR for a box spring.

You will never guess how the story ends.

We bought the whole kit and caboodle and it is scheduled to be delivered between 8 am and noon tomorrow so Merry Christmas to me.

And next weekend?  We are going jeans shopping.  And there will be no haggling.

Even if I have to hide the negotiating pants.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the only downside is that i can never again leave the house in pajamas because i might run into someone i know

I feel it's only fair to update on my rowdy hotel compadres from last week.  Apparently they were members of some sort of football team, and at 11:30 their coaches went door to door, confirmed that everyone was accounted for, took all electronics, and announced lights out.  By 11:37 you could hear a pin drop.  I slept the sleep of angels and woke up more well rested than I've been in weeks.

Which was good because Matt and I moved the next day.

On Friday, we lived here.

And now, we live here.

Matt and I spent the past year living about thirty minutes away from the town where we grew up, which to most people probably isn't a big deal but to us, it was.  We moved there last January because it was closer to our offices at the time, but now we both have new jobs.  I work from home a lot and Matt takes the train into the city, so basically our only location requirement was that we live near a train station.  Our lease was up so we decided to move back because, in the wise words of Bon Jovi, who says you can't go home?

(Except for my dad.  My dad says we can't go home.  Which is why we're living in an apartment exactly 1.4 miles from my parents' house and not in their guest bedroom.) 

So far, it's been a good decision.  My brother and his wife live in the same apartment complex, and they helped us move on Saturday.  My parents came to help too, and they brought hoagies for lunch and the leftovers fed us straight through until yesterday.  Matt's dad came by on Saturday afternoon, a friend stopped over tonight, I saw three people I knew while food shopping on Sunday and I ran into Matt's best friend at WalMart on Sunday night.  Last night we ate dinner at Matt's parents' house and my friend Stacy and I have big plans to resume regular "exercise" in the form of mall walking.

All that to say, I AM SO HAPPY TO BE BACK.

Matt and I unpacked until we literally fell into bed on Saturday night.  I was determined to get every single box unpacked that night but we were totally exhausted and I honestly cannot even remember anything after about 7:00 p.m.

We had a baptism on Sunday, but when we got back from church Matt said, "Okay,  I'm going to go into the bedroom for one hour.  And when I come out, everything in there will be unpacked."  And sure enough, one hour and a lot of Italian opera music later (I don't even know), the bedroom was done.  I finished up the kitchen and living room, and then we trimmed the Christmas tree and kicked back on the couch and admired our handiwork and listened to Christmas music and watched the yule log on TV.  It was very cozy and lovely.

However, the mood turned serious when we decided to go to bed and Matt looked at me and said, "Okay, now I think we should just have a quick meeting about what we are going to do in the event of an emergency.  If there's a fire, we will obviously try to make it down the stairs.  If the stairs are blocked, we will go out on the balcony and climb down.  It won't be easy but we can do it.  I'll be there to help you."


Nothing like ending the weekend on a high note.

Speaking of high notes, last night we went shopping for a new bedroom set.  We currently sleep in the bed Matt bought when he moved into a house in the city with some buddies a few years ago.  His bedroom was in the attic and the slanted ceilings were too low for him to get a normal bed, so instead he got a bed that's just about eight inches off the ground.  So when I said a few paragraphs above that we fell into bed, I meant that literally.

In fact, one of the guys Matt lived with in that house came over tonight for the grand tour of our new place and he said to Matt, "Dude.  I totally forgot how low that bed actually was."

We hoped to get the bedroom set before we moved but then somebody had to get custom made orthotics that weren't covered by insurance.  And do you know what custom made orthotics are?  I mean, besides trendy and youthful and sophisticated?

Expensive.  So the bed purchase was postponed a few weeks but THE TIME HAS COME.

As we looked around the furniture store last night I said, "I wonder if they will offer us a deal." 

Matt whispered, "Well, you might not know this but I am the KING of deals."

You learn something new every day.

In the end we didn't get anything because, in an unprecedented turn of events, we could not get anyone to help us.  Usually furniture store salespeople are all over you like white on rice, but that was not the case last night.  They were sitting behind the desk in the back playing games on their cell phones and watching TV and completely ignoring us.  Matt was especially disappointed because he was wearing his dressy work duds, which he thought would indicate to the salespeople that he was just made of money and they'd be clamoring to assist us.

So we took one last loop around the store as Matt proclaimed, "I came in here tonight to buy a bedroom set.  I was going to spend some real money in here tonight if only someone would help me," but his efforts were in vain.

We aren't giving up though.  We plan to hit the ground running (or more realistically, walking) again tomorrow.  And we're in this for the long haul.

I do have new orthotics after all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

i probably won't be sleeping in heavenly peace

Well, well, well.  I'm coming to you live from the friendliest and most confusing hotel on earth AGAIN.  I have had a work training all week long and I am READY TO GO HOME and also READY FOR A HOME COOKED MEAL.

I can expense my meals, but I work for a non-profit so I try not to spend too much and also, none of my friends are at this particular training and it's no fun eating dinner in a restaurant all alone.

So basically I've been living on a steady diet of Subway turkey sandwiches and Moe's taco salads all week.  Matt had a fancy work dinner himself last night and he called me on his way home to tell me that the bill was $1800.

For eight people.

So it's a good thing I don't struggle with jealousy or anything.

Tonight I ventured out to wander around the Target across the street from the hotel and grab a taco salad.  It was snowing when I left Moe's and I strongly considered just leaving my car in the parking lot and walking the quarter mile back to the hotel.  After much deliberation I gathered up my courage and drove Old Blue back to the hotel like a normal, levelheaded twenty six year old woman.  The lot was packed so I had to park around the side of the hotel, and once I did so, I sat in my car for a while just listening to Christmas carols and staring at the snow and thinking about the long trek to the front door and the possibility that I could slip and fall.

I know.  I have some serious issues with snow.

And overreacting.

As I sat there, a man in a jeep parked next to me and got out.  I figured it was the perfect time for me to get out too because in case I fell there would be someone to help me (what is wrong with me?).

I locked up my car and the man in the jeep said, "Perfect timing, do you want me to let you in the warm door?"

I hesitated because I've seen Criminal Minds, but he told me he was the hotel manager and would let me in the side employee entrance so I didn't have to trek through the slippery snow to the main door.

As we walked in he said, "So, are you here for that big college party?"

"No," I said, "I'm actually here for work."

"Wait a second? You work here?"

No, sir, if I worked here I would certainly know about this convenient employee entrance and I'd also know you, my boss.

He let me in the door and said, "Alright, do you know where you're going?" and while I really wanted to say, "No, but that's no different than any other time I enter this hotel," I just said, "Yes, thank you!"  and made a joke about hoping I wasn't on the college party wing and we laughed.


Because after I made my way across/over/up to my room and settled under the covers with my new book and Christmas carols on Pandora, the college students descended. All guys.  All around me.  They THUNDERED down the hall and I heard slamming doors and discussion about which bags go in which room and and at one point I even heard a key slide into my door and then a voice said, "OH MAN, THIS IS 325.  WHO'S IN 325?  ARE WE IN 325?"

No, R.J., I'm in 325.  TRYING TO RELAX.

After about two minutes of silence they all reconvened in the hallway and I literally laughed out loud at their conversation.  I cannot remember the last time I heard such excitement.







And on.  And on.

And on.

And let me clarify that this is a very old Holiday Inn in central Pennsylvania we're talking about.

This is not the Ritz Carlton.

(I feel qualified to compare the two because I have very fancy friends who booked the Ritz Carlton for my bachelorette party.  Except the whole thing was a surprise and Michelle picked me up and ordered me to wear a blindfold all the way to the lobby of the Ritz.  She reports that we were on the receiving end of many confused looks on the drive.  Especially when I would wave to the cars next to us.)

Anyway, the college boys returned to their rooms where they discovered that the curtains at the end of the room were not covering a window, but a door.

To the balcony.

The hotel is shaped like a "U" and evidently other members of their crew are on the opposite side of the U and they can conveniently scream to each other across the courtyard.

Which they did.

For ten minutes.

Basically it was a lot of "WHAT UP MAN?"


Then they screamed across the courtyard their plans to power nap until 10:30 and then meet up and hit the town.

Something tells me I should go to bed now because I have a funny feeling I'll be awake at 3:00 a.m.
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