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.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

we can never get rid of our cars because then i would have no blog material

Matt and I headed to the gym one night last week, and we took my car because I needed gas.  Since I can't stand to be in the passenger seat of my car with someone else driving (I am a little weird about my car), I was behind the wheel.

We live in a VERY DARK area with turns and curves and hills galore, and other drivers are constantly driving with their high beams on and then not turning them off when oncoming traffic approaches within 500 feet, as per the customary rules of the road.  And the result is BLINDING. 

After about the sixth car did that the other night, Matt said, "This is crazy.  You should flash your high beams at them."

(I have since Googled the practice of flashing your high beams and it appears that such behavior can be viewed as aggressive, or even illegal in some areas.  Let's hope I can't be retroactively ticketed because I am about to incriminate myself in the next paragraph.)

And so I flashed my brights.  

And Matt said, "Why did you flash your fog lights?"

Well, color me surprised.  I told Matt I thought those were my brights, and that I was sorry but unfortunately I did not have any other light selections.  And that's when he told me to push the lever that also controls my windshield wipers and turn signals AND LO AND BEHOLD, THERE WAS LIGHT.

AND LOADS OF IT.

I had no idea those lights existed but now that I know they're there, I cannot stop using them.  

I can't even blame those other drivers for not turning them off.  The visibility is just amazing.

The whole situation reminds me of when I was a little girl and my mom took me to the movies a few days after I got my first pair of glasses.  As soon as the movie started, I slid my new specs down my nose, bifocal style, and throughout the movie I went back and forth between watching with my new glasses and without them.  My mom noticed my strange behavior and leaned over and asked me if everything was okay with my glasses, but it turns out I was just fascinated comparing how poor my vision used to be with how fantastic my glasses made it.

In both situations, I'd literally seen the light.

Speaking of my car, it has been violently shaking for many months now.  Anyone who has ridden in the car with me knows that during periods of acceleration and idling at red lights, there is so much vibration that you have to raise your voice to have a conversation.  
 Naturally my solution has just been to wildly smack at various plastic fixtures in an attempt to quell the noise.

And it's worked for me.  Until that same car trip the other night when Matt said, "How long has your car been shaking like this?"

Oh, ten, twelve months or so.

It turns out I needed a new motor mount, which Matt ordered online last week and planned to install on Saturday.  I didn't want him to think I was lacking confidence in his automobile repair skillz, but since my engine stillsmells of burning oil from his last "maintenance day," I said, "So, you know what you're doing here with this motor mount, right?" 

"Oh yeah," he said, "It should be fine."

Should be fine?

I'm going to need a little more certainty.

"Well, tell me the worst that could happen."  

(Why do I do this to myself?)

"You really want to know the worst that could happen? Well, I guess it would be that I drop the engine, but I promise that won't happen."

And then out the door he went with his toolbox and a whole lot of confidence and I stayed in the house and my nervous energy and I scrubbed the sink until it glistened and EVEN WIPED DOWN THE BASEBOARDS.

Matt came inside a few hours later brimming with the pride of success.  

I will say, my car has never felt so smooth and still.  Occasionally, at red lights, I fear that it has shut off completely because evidently I've become accustomed to the shaking.

And then, because we cannot catch a break, the fan in Matt's car began to blow with great enthusiasm and the check engine light lit up on Sunday.  He drove it over to the dealer, and when he called to give me the update, he told me the water pump was leaking and he had to get a rental.

Since the last time he needed a rental he got a FAN-CAY Camaro, I figured he would have been given a vehicle of similar caliber.   "Oooohhh, what kind of car did you get?" I said.

"Wait until you see.  You will not believe it."

And twenty minutes later, 6'1'', sports car loving Matt pulled into our parking lot in an itsy bitsy, teeny tiny, bright red, Ford Fiesta.



I half expected to see his feet running furiously beneath it, Flinstone style.

He said he was going to call it the Fiesty instead of the Fiesta, but when we took it to the grocery store and I thought I was going to have to get out and push it up the hill, I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps the name was too grand.

Matt's car was all fixed up with a brand new water pump today, so I followed him to the rental place to drop off the Fiesty, and when we got there I said, "Why did you slow way down when we turned onto Route 30? Were you looking at your GPS or something?"

"No!" he said, "I was pedal to the metal! That's all the juice it had!"

So they Fiesty may not have much power.

But I bet she has powerful high beams.


And to me, that's what really matters.

Friday, November 7, 2014

several unrelated thoughts

Every time Matt and I drive by Cracker Barrel we say, "We should go there for dinner one of these nights."

And then we never go because I am turning into quite the chef and also, one can only eat so much fried food.  Well, on Sunday night we were feeling wild and crazy and decided to head over for dinner.

At 4:30 p.m.

So maybe it wasn't wild or crazy at all, but I blame it on a combo of the time change and a small lunch, and certainly not our ever increasing senior citizen tendencies.

Shortly after we sat down, the most adorable family was seated at the table behind us.  It was a young couple, and the man was wearing an army uniform and they had a little girl about two or three who was insistent that she did not need a lid on her cup and was fascinated with unwrapping butter packets.  As they looked through their menus and did their best to keep the butter unwrapping to a minimum, the manager and another man came over to their table.  The man told them that he came from a military family, and to show his appreciation for their service he wanted to pay for their dinner.

And the men shook hands and the baby smiled and the wife burst into tears.

Which made me fill up with tears because I am becoming a softie in my old age.

Even our waitress was so distracted that she brought us two bowls of cornbread.
--------------------------------------------------

A few years ago I babysat for a family with three little boys.  The youngest was two at the time, and when I would pull up in front of their house he would be sitting at the front door waiting for me, and he would greet me with the most enthusiastic welcome and I always thought about how I'd love to get that kind of hello every day.

One time I babysat around Valentine's Day and upon my arrival he presented me with a little plastic baggie filled with pink and red sprinkles that he'd saved for me from the donut he'd had for breakfast.

That wouldn't be bad every day either.

On Saturday afternoon I closed my eyes during halftime of the Penn State-Maryland football game, which, in my defense, was a SNOOZE FEST, and woke up three hours later.  And when I opened my eyes Matt said, "Are you awake? Oh, finally!! I have missed talking to you so much!!"

So I guess my wish came true, just without the sprinkles.
                                           --------------------------------------------------

By 8:00 on Sunday night, all of our sheets and towels were clean and I even washed the bathroom rugs because I was on a laundry roll.  The ironing basket was completely empty and every single item of clothing we own was washed.

And so I slept in my jeans so that I didn't have to throw anything in the hamper.

Just kidding.

But I thought about it.
                                          --------------------------------------------------

My cousin got married on Friday night and I love a good wedding photo shoot.  I had a new dress and Matt and my dad clearly called each other to discuss wardrobe.

Also, my dad wore his halo to the wedding.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

in the end, the cinnamon scent is worth it

When Matt and I voted tonight, there were several local candidates at the polls.  While I signed in, Matt chatted with one of the candidates, and he looked awfully familiar to me.

That's because he was.  I'd met him a few weeks ago.

While Matt was hunting last Saturday morning, I enjoyed a leisurely morning with several cups of coffee and all manner of morning television.  Around 10:30, the doorbell rang.  I had ordered a dress online and it was scheduled to arrive that morning, and since I work from home and have a husband who is addicted to Amazon.com, I know our mailman always rings the bell when he leaves a package at our door.  So I opened the door in my fresh out of bed, pajama clad state, and to my surprise, there was a man in a suit standing there.

Note to self, next time, use the peephole.

The man was holding a stack of political pamphlets, and he asked me if he was at the home of a registered voter named Matt.

I didn’t want to tell him that Matt was out and I was home alone because STRANGER DANGER, but he asked if he could ask me a few questions and since I love nothing more than a good poll, I was all in.

First, he asked if I knew who Matt would be voting for next week.  I wanted to say, “Well sir, he is currently hunting and when he gets home he will turn on the Nascar race, so that should give you a pretty good idea about which way he leans politically.”

But instead I just answered all of his questions and then went on with my Saturday, which included shopping with my mom and a trip to the spa and dinner with Matt’s mom, and I arrived back home that evening feeling ALL KINDS OF RELAXED.

I walked in the house and the smell of cinnamon overwhelmed me. 

Since the beginning of the fall, I have looked at and smelled and considered the purchase of a bag of cinnamon scented pine cones at the grocery store. However, the grocery stores keep the pine cone display outside due to the overpowering cinnamon scent, so by the time I am ready to check out I totally forget about them and thus, I have spent this whole fall pine cone-less. 

It’s been tough, but I’ve powered through.

So, back to last Saturday.  After I recovered from the smell, I looked around the condo to see pine cones, everywhere. 

They were here.



And here. 


And even…here, strategically spread out for maximum scent dissipation.


Now, Matt enjoys home decorating as much as the next guy, which is to say, hardly at all.  And by the look on his face, I could tell there was an ulterior motive for the pine cone displays.

“I bought you these pine cones today,” he said.  “And…I bought some other things…and you might not be thrilled about them.”

I braced myself and asked what the purchases were.

“Well, I bought a bag of Kit Kats.  And..a two year membership...to...the NRA.”

I only wished I had that information earlier in the day to share with our local representative along with the hunting/Nascar info.

But as it turns out, he and Matt talked for quite a while tonight and he actually lives on our street. Maybe one of these days he will stop by again and they can continue their conversation.

And I can explain why we have pine cones all over our house and everything smells like cinnamon.

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