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."

Well, TAKE ME BACK TO THE BOARDS.

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.

JOE.

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."

I WANTED TO MELT INTO THE FLOOR AND DISAPPEAR.

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."

Well.

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.

Well, HE SHE WHO LAUGHS LAST.

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.

"YOU GUYS HAVE TWO BEDS? THAT IS SO AWESOME!"

"A MICROWAVE? NO WAY! R.J., DO WE HAVE A MICROWAVE?"

"CHECK OUT THIS COUCH!"

"LOOK AT THIS, DUDE- SOME SORT OF COT OR BED THAT HAS WHEELS!"

"YO WE HAVE A RECLINING CHAIR AND A BENCH IN HERE!"

"HEY HOW DID YOU GUYS GET A ROOM WITH TWO BEDS?"

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?"

"HEY ANY OF YOU GUYS HAVE A ROLL AWAY BED ON THAT SIDE?  WE HAVE A ROLL AWAY BED OVER HERE!  IT'S AWESOME!"

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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

i won't be driving anywhere until april

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said you should do one thing every day that scares you.  Well, mission accomplished for today, Mrs. Roosevelt.  I drove during a WINTER WEATHER EVENT.

Over the weekend the weathermen started excitedly forecasting a Thanksgiving Eve snowstorm.  If there are two things weather people love, it's some drama and the opportunity to come up with a catchy name for a storm.  I think the combination of the term "Snowvember" and the fact that there were no hurricanes or major floods to keep them busy this summer made them desperate for this storm to turn into something major.

As a result, lots of people shrugged off the forecast as much ado about nothing. However, I was not one of those people.  I HATE driving in the snow.  I try to remain calm and in control but I cannot help it- I panic if I know I have to drive anywhere when the road conditions may be less than ideal.

And so, I did what any normal person does when the forecast calls for snow.  I CALLED MY BOSS AND TOLD HER I WOULD NEED THE DAY OFF.

In all fairness, I was already flirting with the idea of taking the day off because I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 10:00, and I was tempted by the prospect of a five day weekend.  But it was the forecast that sealed the deal.

The changeover from rain to snow hadn't happened when I left for the doctor at 9:30 this morning, but I threw a granola bar in my purse before I left JUST IN CASE I got stranded on the roads.  At the last minute I decided to also bring a few mozzarella cheese sticks with me because you can never be too prepared, and I shoved two in the front pocket of my sweatshirt on my way out the door.

Please keep in mind that the forecast called for ONE TO THREE INCHES.

I HAVE NOT MOVED TO BUFFALO.

I had an appointment with the podiatrist because I have aged fifty years since I turned 26, and at the end of the appointment the doctor told grandma here that I could put my shoes back on while he finished fixing up my orthotic.

Please imagine my embarrassment as I bent down to put my sneakers on and those two cheese sticks SLID OUT OF MY POCKET AND ONTO THE FLOOR.

The doctor looked at my cheese and me quizzically, and for a split second I thought about explaining that I brought them along in case I got stranded in my car due to the weather conditions.  I decided that scenario was just as odd, if not moreso, than just being that girl who carries cheese in her pocket, so I just said, "Oh, cheese!" and picked them up as fast as I could.

(Just kidding about the "oh, cheese" part.  I didn't actually say that because I didn't think of it until this very minute but how hilarious would that have been?)

The first flakes were falling as I drove home, and I white knuckled it the entire way.  Once I merged onto the highway I positioned myself behind a fruit truck that was driving slowly and sensibly because it seemed like the right thing to do.  I stopped just short of turning on my flashers to broadcast my intense fear to my fellow motorists.

The drive was uneventful but when I pulled into our parking lot I was so relieved I wanted to cry.

And now, allow me to provide a visual aid of the road conditions at the time of my travel.


I know.

It's a wonder I made it home on those not-at-all-snow-covered roads.

I still don't regret taking the cheese.

Better safe (and mortified) than sorry.

Or hungry.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

this is why i am a homebody

Last week I had to go on a work trip, and I stayed in the not-at-all-difficult-to-navigate hotel with the fourth and fifth floor on the same level, and the third floor located on the ground level.



I have stayed there at least ten times and I still get lost trying to find my way around.  

When I checked in Wednesday evening for my twelve hour stay, I was given a glass of complimentary apple cider, information about the continental breakfast, and a key for room 441.  I immediately began to regret my excessive packing as I lugged my rolling suitcase, laptop bag, two jackets, purse, lunchbox, and complimentary apple cider down the hall to the elevator, where I made the pleasant discovery that I was staying in the friendliest hotel in THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.



I could hardly believe my good luck.

My belongings and I traveled from the groundthird floor up to the fourthfifth floor, and down several long hallways until at last I arrived at room 441.

I slid my key into the door, and the red light blinked.

Slid it in again.  Red light.

I flipped it over and tried once more.  And once more I saw the red light.

So I gathered my composure and all of my belongings and trudged back to the desk.  A different employee was there and she said, in a VERY FRIENDLY manner, "Hello, miss!!!! Is there something I can help you with?!!!"

"There is," I said, "I just checked into room 441 a minute ago and my room key isn't working."

She typed furiously on her keyboard for a few seconds and then said, with the biggest smile in the entire country, "I'm so sorry, but no one has checked in yet for room 441."

"Well," I said, "I am all checked in.  And my paperwork here says room 441."

After she looked into the matter a bit further and consulted with her manager, she discovered that I was supposed to be in room 449.  As she fixed me up a new key, she looked at me and said, "Don't worry Ms. C.!  You aren't the crazy person!  I AM!" with the COUNTRY'S FRIENDLIEST smile on her face.

I didn't think I was crazy at all, but the statement was oddly reassuring.

I am happy to report that the key to 449 worked beautifully and aside from a moment of my own confusion in the elevator, the rest of my stay at THE FRIENDLIEST HOTEL IN THE COUNTRY was incident free.

Since the location of my meeting was halfway to Penn State, I decided to drive the rest of the way there after my Thursday meeting and visit Emily.

I also decided to book a hotel for the two of us since my days of sleeping in a college dorm are way behind me, and what college girl doesn't love a chance to get out of her dorm for a night?

Emily and I checked into the hotel on Thursday evening and the lady behind the desk gave us the key to room 233.

As we made our way to the room I told Em all about my experience from the night before and we laughed and laughed because ISN'T THAT CRAZY?  HOPE WE DON'T HAVE SUCH BAD LUCK THIS TIME AROUND.

And then I slid the key into the door in room 233 and it opened right up.

I turned on the light and waltzed in a few steps, only to discover THERE WAS ALREADY SOMEBODY IN THERE.

I saw a pizza and sodas on the desk, and I do believe I saw legs under the covers but I cannot be sure because I backed right out of that room faster than I've moved in years.

I whisper-yelled GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! as I literally RAN.  EMILY. OVER.

We hightailed it back down to the desk as Emily kept saying how that seemed like the opening scene of a Law and Order SVU episode and sufficiently FREAKING ME OUT.

When we got to the front desk the lady asked what was wrong, and I said, "It appears that there is someone in the room already."

"Well, there shouldn't be," she said.

THERE IS, M'AM, I SAW THE BIG GULP AND THE PEPPERONI PIZZA ON THE DESK WITH MY OWN TWO EYES.

She reassigned us to another room, which was, quite fortunately, unoccupied.

And then we took this adorable picture because we were so happy to be reunited and headed out for dinner (Emily), and...alive (me).


We had a very pleasant stay, but I think my next visit will just be a day trip.


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