Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Random Thoughts from 2009 - Day 5

Board Games and Card Games make me feel like a kid again. I started playing cards early with my Grandma Great (aka Great Grandmother). I was probably 4 or 5 but I could play a mean Old Maid. Then I moved on to Rummy with my grandmother where we had a running score sheet that got saved throughout my college years and we played whenever I was home. My grandmother would complain when I beat her, which I did a lot, but it was our thing. Now, I am really into Phase 10 and this new Mystery Card game that we played through out the Christmas holiday. Tom and I played against my parents and we lost bad every time. There was histrionics, whining, laughter and a little bit of crying. It did not help that my parents weren't good winners as my Dad paraded around the dining and living room doing his happy dance! Oh well, next time!

I love trying new restaurants especially if they have been in one of the magazines because a movie star has eaten there. I have dragged Wendy to L.A. Farm because of a Jennifer Aniston sighting and to Spago and the Ivy because anyone who is anyone wants to be seen at those restaurants. We have drank too many martinis at Dolce (Ashton Kutcher's restaurant) and traipsed to Table 8, L'Orangerie and Osso because they were featured in In Touch. I dragged Scott to Tavern on the Green in NYC for an overpriced lunch to be able to say I had this experience, which is hindsight is a great thing, because they have not shuttered their doors forever. Tom has been on the Rachael Ray culinary tour of Cleveland and Maui and has lived to tell the tale. Maybe my love of food and trying hip restaurants has fed my Top Chef addiction, but I want to go to Volt Restaurant in Frederick Maryland and The Dining Room at The Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, CA because of the Voltaggio brothers. I want to eat at French Laundry before I die (I just need to plan my trip to Napa ahead of time) and I am looking forward to trying a couple of new restaurants with Ann Arbor's Restaurant week starting this January.

Las Vegas is another winner - you can never get bored there and you can never go there too many times. I have been there 12 times and I always find new things to do. Given my love of restaurants and trendy bars, there are always new ones to try. There are always crazy adventures (the rooftop at the Venetian, Mr. Connecticut and the Cirque shows), once in a lifetime experiences (like getting married, shooting at AK-47 and indoor sky diving) and never to be repeated times (the nightclub Rain, New Year's Eve and being stuck in Vegas for 2 extra days due to an ice storm). Our last trip included old standbys - a baseball game and a movie in addition to the Caesar's sports book, Serendipity 3 and a Vegas buffet.

Trip to Vegas in 2010? Unlikely - too many other trips planned. Cards, Rachael Ray restaurants and fun in Florida? Most definitely!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Random Thoughts from 2009 - Day 4

Given that I am kinda of a klutz I am on a first name basis with my doctors. I e-mil my primary care physician and we discuss my issues without having to come into the office. I love women doctors, since we have the same chromosome pairings, they have actually experienced the same sh*t. In February, I woke up with excruciating pain and we were off to the ER where we clearly did not get the smartest bulb on the tree doctor. I explained my blood curdling pain and he told me I was just ovulating. I said (and not very nicely) "First of all, I have ovulated for 23 years and this is NOT what it feels like. Second, I have no ovary on this side, so go fish!" Off he went to ponder what to do next! He came back and said he was waiting for my blood work to determine what to do next. I said no blood has been taken. He said "Yes, it has". I assure you it had not. I know if someone pokes me with a large needle. I may be on morphine for the pain, but I am not under anesthesia! Again he leaves and 5 minutes later, lo and behold someone comes to take my blood (really this time). After 12 fun filled hours of this, we find out I have a kidney stone and off I go home with some heavy duty painkillers! Are you kidding me? Did he get his degree at Doctors R Us? Really, I know more from being a Bio minor.

Birthdays are awesome! One day is not enough to celebrate the fabulousness of my life, so I insist on at least of week of fun! I have had some interesting birthdays (Bar hopping in Key West on my 22nd Birthday), embarrassing birthdays (being sung Happy Birthday at Planet Hollywood in NYC on my 21st birthday), boring birthdays (being stuck in Corinth in a snow storm on my 20th birthday) and life changing birthdays (getting engaged on my 33rd birthday) but I always enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, opening presents and eating cake! I have spent a good number of birthdays since I moved to Ann Arbor eating crab leg dinners at Real Seafood, drinking martinis and celebrating multiple times. I would not have it any other way! In 2010, I will be 3 Dozen, so we will have to have a clever party to celebrate!

Birthday Extravaganzas with MJ, Fay, Murph and Mindy are always fun. These occur 3 times a year and usually go as follows: appetizers and mimosas, followed by lunch and martinis, followed by shopping and maybe another afternoon beverage for good measure. How many days we have spent huddled onto Murph's couches as we contemplate the long drive (2 miles) from her house to PF Chang's and if anyone is sober enough to drive or does Sean have to take us there. Good times had by all!

Here's to a Happy and Healthy 2010 with no visits to the ER and a rockin' birthday celebration!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Random Thoughts from 2009 - Day 3

I love Ichiban! It is like Bennihana where they cook your meal in front of you. I never tire of the onion volcano or the knife tricks that our chef, Soy Sauce performs. It makes me happy when they throw shrimp at you and you have to try and catch it!

Billy Joel also makes me happy! Molly, Liz, and I went to Syracuse during college to see Billy Joel and Elton John perform. We obviously are die hard fans because we slept on the floor in a boys dorm room, used communal bathrooms and put up with stinky boys in our quest to rock out to "Only the Good Die Young" and "We Didn't Start the Fire." This year, Liz, Molly and I were at the Mohegan Sun casino and there was a Billy Joel cover band. They immediately transported us back to our college days, especially when we met some crazy guys in the bar who were middle aged and acting like they were in high school!

Twilight is terrific! I devoured the four books in record time and I love the movies! I want Bella, Edward and Jacob to all get along and live happily ever after together. I hosted a Twilight party this year complete with Bloody Bella martinis! I am now the proud owner of a Twilight Calendar, Twilight journals and all the Behind the Scenes books.

The Jaycee ski trip was another fun event. Tom and I won the lottery and we got the private bedroom and bathroom for the weekend. We played games, hung out and went tubing. We were swishing down the hills like world class skiers (but on inner tubes) as the wind whipped in our face. We needed goggles and then with our scarves flapping, we would have looked like Snoopy as the Red Baron! The whole group went out to a Mexican restaurant and the waiter brought us complimentary bowls of soup to share. Too bad the single boys were sitting next to one another, they had to share a bowl of soup. Hilarity ensued as some soup was spilled, tiki drinks were imbibed and Scott sampled chips and salsa from the nearby table as we headed out of the restaurant!

Now if I could just eat at Ichiban with Tom and Scottie and Edward and Jacob while listening to Billy Joel, I would be a happy girl!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Random Thoughts from 2009 - Day 2

In honor of Christmas Day and the fact that my father is giving me sh*t for not writing a blog for him to read in 2 days, I think my random thought of today is that Christmas is absolutely cool! Tom and I made it home to Corinth this year with only about a 15 minute flight delay which is about 2 hours and 45 minutes better than our escapade last year. As we stumbled in to the airport at 12:15 a.m., the Albany airport was bustling, something that you might see 2 - 3 times per year. Families were out in full force with ugly Christmas sweaters, reindeer ears on their heads and Santa hats. Luckily for us, my parents refrained from that nonsense!

Christmas is a time to be lazy. When else do you have the opportunity to eat a lot of all your favorite foods, not exercise and not feel bad about it? Christmas is all about family and celebrating the birth of Jesus and we take these things seriously. However, we take some of our other traditions pretty serious as well. Every year, I wear a red plaid skirt to church. This skirt makes it appearance maybe twice a year but always seems festive for Christmas Eve mass. Who cares that the people I see at church every year think I own one outfit? I rock that outfit! I have pictures of me sitting in front of the tree every year rocking that outfit. The shoes and the shirt may change but the skirt is a tradition.

Another custom we have is going to see a movie on Christmas night. After presents, trying on new clothes and stuffing ourselves to the gills, the movies give us a reason not to put our pajamas on at 7 p.m. This year we watched It's Complicated - can't remember what we saw last year, but I am sure it was equally as must see. It doesn't matter what movie it is, it matters that we get there early to get a seat and complain about the bad pre-movie show that we have to suffer through.

Alcohol is another fun custom. We have a morning drink, afternoon drinks, drinks with dinner and if we can still stand, a night cap. Everything seems more festive with a martini glass in your hand!

Over the year's I remember my grandmother spending the night on the couch on Christmas Eve and waiting patiently for us to be allowed out of our rooms at 7 a.m. for the fun to begin. I remember the Secret Santa gifts from Christmas Eve where you drew names (between the 4 of us) and had to buy a $5 gift. I remember we forced my Dad to actually buy his gift by himself instead of making my Mom do it!

I remember eating at Macaroni Grill in Ann Arbor on Christmas Eve as that was one of the only restaurants open and I remember going to see the play Scrooge with Mom, Dad and Tom where my Dad was the only one that thought the 1 man play was not a snore. Growing up, I remember my sister and I fighting to have the last present to open and counting how many boxes we had under the tree making sure that the other one did not even get one more!

Now, I talk to my sister on the phone like 5 times on Christmas Day and I laugh at my niece and nephew dressed as Mr and Mrs Santa Claus until the pee and throw-up on those outfits and change to being a reindeer and a polar bear. I listen to my niece KellieLynn tell me that I need to go home right now and play Wii Fit Plus because it is totally fun and that she is going to beat Uncle Tom at it the next time she sees him!

Now, I hang out with my husband who eats my Mom's homemade fudge like it is a food group, eat up my Mom's yummy food and watch my Dad stop and try out every Christmas present he gets, stopping present opening for at least 3 minutes each time.

Oh, well, I guess it's time to make another round of Martinis and be thankful for my awesome life!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Random Thoughts from 2009 - Day 1

I was reading Jennifer Lancaster's blog, Jennsylvania the other day and she had random thoughts about Christmas. I thought - great idea, just throw out there all the crazy things I am thinking about so the world can know how truly neurotic I am. Sounds wonderful!

Wii is one of our obsessions. Tom loves Guitar Hero and has been known to invite people over for hours while I pass out on the couch or say the heck with it, and just go to bed with guests still there. He even has Guitar Hero underwear to show his passion for it! I received Wii Fit for Christmas. This game rocks - there is Pilates, yoga, step aerobics and boxing. 10 minutes of non-stop hula hooping makes me huffy puffy yet Tom always manages to call when I am doing this. It is like an internal alarm in him and if I do not answer the cell phone, he moves onto the Blackberry, then the home phone and there is no pause button in the middle of hooping. I just got Wii Sports Resort for Christmas 2010 and at 11:30 p.m. Tom and I were beating each other over the head with Sword Play and looking like we were churning butter in the living room as we tried to canoe through the race course. Seriously, we are a sight when we play Wii!

Bar Trivia is fun. We started playing this fall at the Brown Jug after softball and it has continued. When it is time to phone a friend, we call Google on the IPhone as our friends are not smarter. We have won or placed more times than not, but we suck for a team name. We are just "Team 8." Nothing more, nothing less. We are unimaginative! The last 2 weeks we won on the final questions - we go big or go home!

Odd games are fun. At the JCI January Board Meeting we played a dice game called Maya. Sugar packets kept track of points and the ante was $1 each. We were big spenders! No game would be complete without being threatened by the bartender that he was going to call the police because gambling is outlawed in Missouri. Seriously? The pot never topped $18! Also, there is apparently a law also that they can not sell alcohol at 12 p.m. and it is illegal to sit in the lobby doing nothing after that point as well. Can't wait to go there in a couple of weeks again! Wonder if the cops will actually come this year :)!

Well I just realized I have lots of random thoughts so I think in the spirit of Christmas, I think I will do the 12 Days of Random Thoughts. We will see what turns up!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Behind the Scenes

Since I love TV, it only seems appropriate that I like to go to tapings of TV shows. In college, Molly, Amanda and I went to see the Sally Jess Raphael show. She really has crazy red glasses. We went to see the David Letterman Show. Dave likes it cold. Cold enough to wear gloves, a scarf and a coat during the taping. We got to see Howard Stern in a dress giving a lap dance to Dave. How many people can say they saw that live?

Then it was off to Saturday Night Live (SNL) with Britney and Alesha. We got to see all the classic players - Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, David Spade. Kim Basigner and Alec Baldwin (pre-divorce) were the guest stars and Billy Baldwin (pre-reality TV crazy) made a surprise appearance. As we sat in the galley during the rehearsals, we sang along to UB-40s "Red, Red Wine" , dodged security trying to get the stars attention!

Wendy, another coworker and I headed out to the Drew Carey Show in Burbank. We bought Sweetee Thai and tried to eat pad tai and vegetables while driving down the highway. After getting stuck in gridlock, we finally arrived to board the bus to the Warner Bros. lot. We passed through security, had our bags checked, went through the metal detectors and finally ended up in the studio. Then the fun began! We sat there for 4 hours to see a 22 minute show taped. Lori Laughlin looked anorexic, Mimi looked crazier in person and Drew Carrey was pretty funny when he was talking to the crowd. They gave us pizza and water but when we asked to go to the bathroom, you would have thought we asked to be on the show! After some cajoling, we traipsed 2 buildings away to use the restroom before being hurried back to sit in our seats and clap! I know understand when stars say the 10 - 14 hour days on the set is not fun! The coolness of being there wore off after about 45 minutes!

What shows do I still want to go to -- Rachael Ray, Oprah (but I need to hurry if I am going to get to do that). I wouldn't mind checking out Jeopardy or the Price is Right. Dream world -- maybe General Hospital but I do not think they allow visitors, so I might have to win a contest to get a walk-on role. Who knows -- I can see my name in lights!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Craziness in Cali

Wendy and I spent the majority of 2002 and 2003 in California (if you could not tell from previous posts). While there, we developed a routine -- we got coffee every day from It's a Grind, we ate fish tacos and grilled zucchini at California Fish Grill. We got our beauty treatments at Lucky Nails, drank martini's at Mike's house and Chimayo's and ate Thai at Sweetee Thai. We were locals -- we gave people directions, we were on a first name basis with the hotel staff and we had frequent shopper cards for Albertson's. We also became really good friends with some of our clients, specifically Bernadette and her family.

Bernadette is a force to be reckoned with. She is awesome and Wendy and I spent hours curled up on her couch watching TV, hanging out with her, her 2 daughters and her husband. One of our first times over at their house, we decided to play pool. All was fine until Wendy launched a ball off the table, it hit the newly painted wall and dropped to the floor. We are lucky that we were invited back to their incredibly nice Orange County house.

Bernadette was also so sweet when we were away from our families on our birthdays and such. For my 30th birthday, we off to Fashion Island in Newport Beach for dinner at Cheesecake Factory. In addition, Bernadette took me to the Build-A-Bear Workshop where the 3 of us made Fifi, a pink posh poodle that sings "Happy Birthday Bear, Happy Birthday." From there, Fifi went everywhere with us that week and pictures were taken of Fifi in the car, flying on the airplane, drinking a soda at Del Taco and Wendy carried her onto the plane in her back back. Who else can say that 3 adults made this crazy bear and they have such good memories of that birthday?

In addition, we drank sake martinis at a yummy Asian restaurant, we drank bottles of wine at family BBQs and we got food poisoning together at Rock Bottom Brewery. Doesn't everyone wish they had clients (and friends) like these?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Comedy of Cooking

Cooking is OK. I like to entertain so I could quite a bit. I have my staples that everyone loves - macaroni and cheese, Cajun lasagna, Chinese chicken salad and anything chicken. However, not all cooking/baking is without incident.

Not too long ago my husband was making tilapia and wanted to fry it in flour. I love fish, but I will not cook fish, so I was quite excited. I pulled out the flour and went on my merry way. We sat down to eat and something looked wrong, the browning was odd. I took one bite and realized the problem. I had given him confectionery sugar instead of flour. It was the sweetest fish we ever ate, but we ate it, because that was on the menu for that night!

Next up, Fay's pumpkin birthday cake - I spent a couple of hours over the weekend making a cake in the shape of pumpkin, complete with orange frosting and candy carvings. It wasn't looking half bad until I tripped on the side walk and the cake ended up all over me and all over the drive way. Off to Meijer's to buy a cake - pissed that I had wasted so much time and money and I was bring a store made cake to the party.

Last night, Jaime and I decided that we were going to make holiday cookies. Each of us were armed with our 2 recipes and the ingredients. You would never have recognized us at the end with all the flour and powdered sugar flying. We looked like we were senior citizens as the white settled into our hair. In addition, trying to wrangle 2 pounds of powdered sugar and a huge jar of peanut butter into a buckeye was quite comical!

That's probably too much sharing for today - I don't want you to think that I can not cook and bake. Sometimes, I get distracted, I admit I make a mess when cooking, but usually people eat what I make and don't get sick.

I rock the crab cakes and quesadillas also!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No Wonder My Stomach Hurts

My co-worker, Tim and I finished work around noon in L.A. and did not have a flight till 10 p.m. so we set off for an afternoon adventure. This time we decided to check out Griffith Park and Observatory since it is the setting of many movies - Charlie's Angels, (500) Days of Summer to name 2 that come to my cloudy morning brain. So we headed up there only to find out the Observatory was closed for 2 years for renovations. Really? Could they not do this in phases that would allow visitors to still visit? Pissed and now hungry, we decide to eat at the snack shop in the park. I order a burger, Tim orders a corn dog and we share an order of chili cheese fries. After downing enough artery clogging food for the week, we decide to take a spin on the playground ride that you push, jump on and spin. Probably not the best idea!

Feeling queasy, we decide to head off to Santa Monica Promenade to see what is happening there. As we walk around, Tim decides we need candy so off with our expense account to the candy store where he proceeds to buy an obscene amount of candy that I make him carry the rest of the day. Deciding to check out a Shrimp Shack for dinner before heading to the airport, we hop in the car, get stuck in traffic, get lost and end up 45 minutes later and the restaurant which was about 5 miles away from our starting point. As we pull in, I say, I'm not really feeling to well, I don't think I am going to eat anything. Expletives fly and we peel out of the peel and eat shrimp place and speed toward the airport. Apparently, Tim was not hungry either!

Once at the airport, we start to board the plane and I am hungry. I tell Tim to keep the candy handy. What does he do? He puts it in the overhead! I start whining and as we travel a lot together, we sound like a bickering married couple. The couple behind us tells us we are sweet. We tell the "peanut gallery" to pipe down. We spend the next 30 minutes chatting with this cute couple!

So, what is the moral of this story? We are not kids anymore. We can not shove tons of junk food into our body in one day, get twisted on a park ride and still eat dinner like a grown up!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Must Have List of Movies, Music, Plays, TV and Books for 2009

OK, well I would be remiss in finishing up 2009 without looking back on the Movies, Music and Books that made my 2009 so interesting. I admit, I am a TV junkie. So, what, it is better than being a crack junkie. I like to lose myself in the absurdity that is fiction.

1) Prison Break Series End - this was the absolute best show on the planet, ever! Seriously, it was smart with hot bad boys and Michael made MacGyver look like a wanna be. I cried at the series finale and had a party to watch the made for DVD movie that tied up the loose ends. We took mug shots (even Vince the dog had one) and we had Teddy's Tea, Lincoln Log Cheese, Sucre's Cookies, a Michael cake and Sara's meds. What other show could give us such a party theme to run with?

2) The Wrestler - This movie is depressing and Mickey Rourke plays washed up well. But, this movie was real. You know there are people out there that are this pathetic, this stuck in the past and what could have been. It makes you want to enjoy what you have now.

3) Twilight Series - OMG! I am both Team Edward and Team Jacob. Can't they all just live happily ever after together? I devoured the books, loved the movies, and obsessed over the movie making books as I continue to plot my trip to Forks.

4) He's Just Not that Into You - This movie epitomizes the dating years before marrying Tom. Not to be a smug married, but I am so glad I am not single and having to deal with this bullsh*t again. And the fact that Bradley Cooper is in the movie, is just gravy!

5) Cleo Coyle - Coffee House Series - With names like Latte Trouble, On What Grounds and Murder Most Frothy how could I not read these 7 books in a week? They make me want to find that perfect Latte, and I think I have nearly found it at Mighty Good Roasting Company in Ann Arbor!

6) The Hangover - Bradley Cooper = Bonus! Probably one of the funniest movies I have every seen and it just reinforces my trips to Vegas that anything can happen!

7) Legally Blonde - Clearly one of the Top 5 musicals of all time. How can you go wrong with the Bend and Snap song? I agree with Elle, pink is my signature color!

8) Zombieland - Not usually my type of movie. I admit, I watched part of it with my arm over my eyes sunk down in my chair. But with rules like Cardio, the Double Tap, Beware of Bathrooms, Seatbelts and Woody Harrelson, how can you go wrong?

9) Sons of Anarchy - If I was single and a bad a**, I would want to date Jax. These biker boys know what it means to get even.

10) Jay - Z's - Run this Town and Empire State of Mind - These songs make me feel ghetto, in a good way! I feel the need to belt out Rihanna and Alicia Key's parts. When did Jay-Z get cool again? Besides the songs talk about NYC, so you had me at the first note.

11) Castle - This show is one of the few that Tom and I agree on. It is witty, has a high cuteness factor and deals with solving murders. A perfect date night at home!

12) Boom Boom Pow - You are so 2008, you are 2000 and late! This song just makes me want to dance around and that can't be a bad thing right!

I wonder what 2010 will bring!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Top 9 of 2009

As the year comes to an end, news shows are looking back at the top stories of 2009. Since my life is more exciting than the news, I thought I would go through the Top 9 events in my 2009. Here they are:

1) Trip to Connecticut with Molly and Liz
No matter how long we have been apart, as soon as we meet up, it is like we are 19 and back at Marymount College. We spent the weekend doing our usual - pedicures/manicures and martinis. We stayed a cute beach side resort. We caused trouble at the casino when these 3 guys came over and tried to pick us - the fact that Molly was 8 months pregnant did not seem to deter them!

2) Las Vegas Trip
This was an awesome adventure with 10 other Jaycee friends. We drank, we sunned, we went to the see a f'ed up Cirque du Soleil show. We had frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3 and checked out a minor league baseball game. What happens in Vegas, definitely makes good stories!

3) Puerto Rico Trip
This combination JCI/leisure trip saw Tom and I drinking too many rum drinks, running around the hot city on a walking tour and being drenched at the rain forest. Tom got chased by a park ranger as he was in a restricted area, but what is a trip without a little excitement?

4) Balloon Ride
Whoever said 13 is an unlucky number, did not have our balloon ride saga! On our 13th attempt was a success as we soared 2200 feet in the air. We had to pinch ourselves that our anniversary present actually happened, albeit 9 months after our 1st anniversary!

5) Susie and Jim's Wedding
Busy weekend since both sisters live in Kansas. Besides dancing the night away at a beautiful wedding, we did some shopping, saw a movie, and went to a baby shower for my sister and the twins. We survived the menagerie (2 dogs, 3 cats, and a rabbit) and 1 bathroom for 5 people at my sister's while having lots of fun!

6) Yankees win the World Series
Despite the Tigers not making the playoffs and preventing me from seeing the Yankees in the playoffs in Detroit, I was glued to the TV. I watched every game, screamed at the TV and sent Tom running to another room numerous times. I wore my "I love Yankees" necklace for 2 weeks straight, whether it matched my outfit or not.

7)Election as Executive Vice President of JCI
World Congress in Tunisia exceeded my low expectations. I had the chance to go parasailing and ride a camel - both adrenaline rushes. I was also elected to serve the Americas next year and I just got back from a quick trip to Argentina to check things out!

8) Birth of Anna Michelle and Elijah James - My niece and nephew were born on November 30th and Anna is even named after me. How cool is that? I hope see looks and acts like me and KellieLynn also! Now, my chore is to find a free weekend to go to Kansas and check them out!

9) Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting - A work trip to NY that corresponded with the tree lighting and since I had never experienced this, it was time to check it out. Along with 100,000 of my closest friends and a down pour of rain, we saw the tree being lit, heard the Christmas show (but couldn't see it) and got to hear Rod Stewart sing about his "Christmas Train."

2009 has been a good year, full of adventure, new experiences and unique opportunities. Mix in a little drama, a lot of flair and it leads to one Glam Life! Here's to a great 2010!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Men Just Don't Understand

This morning as I was looking at my eyebrows and the need to get them waxed, I realized men have it easy. Unless they are metrosexual (who have higher standards), men don't really spend much time prettying themselves up. They shower, shave semi - regularly and do enough with their eyebrows, if they are smart, not to look like Bert from Sesame Street with the unibrow. But most of the time, they do not care about the brand they are using, will easily substitute soap for shampoo in a jam and don't really think twice about the hair all over their bodies. So, I say, unless you have walked a mile in a woman's shoes, do not ever complain on how long it takes us to get ready.

Women spend a lot of time and money on our appearance. We spend large amounts of time at the hair salon getting cut, colored and styled. We sometimes miss the mark and get a hair style that we look back on with disdain, but we can say that we have not had the same hair cut since high school! We wax (and not just our eyebrows), we get manicures, pedicures and body scrubs. I have been scrubbed within an inch of my life trying to get fresh and vibrant skin.

I have been wrapped in what amounted to aluminum foil to help my body detoxify, and I have subjected my self to a mud bath to release the impurities from my skin. My Mom and I have sat in mineral baths that stink to make our skin smoother and I am married in probably 7 countries as a result of a very deep tissue massage to release the tension in my body.

But even I draw the line with some of the crazy beauty treatments available - I do not plan on having ear candling, nor cupping. I do not like hot stone massage because it leaves welts all over for body for 2 days which look gross, nor do I think a facial is worth $170 (unless of course I was filthy rich and then it would be worth every cent). But I do think that men should appreciate the efforts that most women make to look good. After all, it is not easy being me!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Why Don't You Mind Your Own Business? I am an Adult!

Wendy and I were on a flight from DTW -> LA (yes, again) on a Sunday night. We were hungover from a crazy Christmas party that happened Friday night (yes, I know that is 48 hours, it was not our best showing ever). I also had a cold and we were both dressed in track suits and feeling vial. We were cranky that we had not been upgraded to first class, so the flight was starting off badly. The plane was packed and we could not even get seats together.

As we sat there waiting to take off, I saw Ingo Rademacher board the plane and sit in the very last row. Who is Ingo Rademacher you might ask - well he is Jax from General Hospital and he is one of my favorite characters on the entire show. My heart started racing and I ran up the aisle to Wendy's seat to tell her. She was equally impressed but no one else seemed to notice that we were in the presence of a star. Stupid middle age business men! As I sat in my seat trying to calm myself, I told my seat mate the entire story. I usually never talk to people sitting next to me. In fact, if someone tries to talk to me, I ignore them. As I continued to talk incessantly to the man beside me and run back up to see Wendy again, he offered to change seats with her to get the hell away from me. I was like, thank you very much!

Wendy got back to my seat and was cursing at the old man that she had been seated by. When we boarded, she broke out a granola bar to eat (as she had not eaten all day - we were hungover, remember?) and the old man told her, they are going to serve a meal on the plane and she should not eat the granola bar as it will ruin her dinner. WTF? Since when did the dinner police travel on NWA? We are not 5!

Now, Wendy and I were sitting together and I ventured back to Jax with my Real Simple magazine and asked for an autograph, while trying to look cute in my hungover, track pant state, while keeping it on the down low (DL). As the flight progressed, Jax and his manager sensing we were the only fans on the plane, came up and hung out with us. We talked for about 45 minutes. I want to think it is because we are cute and fascinating, but it is more likely the fact that they are both over 6 feet tall and we had a bulkhead seat so they could stand up on the long flight. Never the less, I will stick to the we are cute and fascinating story.

At the end of the flight, we waited till the end and got our picture taken with Jax. It became a proud photo in our work cubicles for many years. They followed us to baggage claim and as soon as we were away from them and into our rental car, we were squealing like teenage girls. Definitely one of the best flights of our lives!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wacky Wine Weekend

Three weeks ago, Wendy, Linda and I decided to go to the Toast the Season wine weekend on Leelanau Pennisula. We were leaving at 7 am on Saturday morning and given how slow Wendy can be in the morning, we decided to have a sleepover Friday night. So, what to do? We decided drinking, talking and reality TV. So, I got out my martini shaker and started to make Kahlua, vodka and milk martinis. As I was shaking the drinks like Tom Cruise in Cocktail, the cover popped off the shaker and yummy goodness sprayed all over the kitchen. After cleaning up that sticky mess and remaking the martini's adding vanilla creamer this time to make them even better, we settled down to watch White Collar, our new favorite show with the cute lead guy. Wendy promptly fell asleep and I was sitting there in essence alone on a Friday night while I tried to hear the TV over her snores. Wild women we were not!

Up the next morning and I am making my latte for the road. I got it all ready and took a big sip only to realize I had poured a big shot of Kahlua into my travel mug instead of espresso. Again, I needed to remake my drink before I could enjoy it. Linda's bus was late (aka she hit snooze on her alarm clock too many times) so we were off like a herd of turtles at 7:30 instead of 7:00.

The rest of the wine tour went well - we hit 13 out of 17 wineries in 2 days and we had a yummy dinner at the Mackinaw Brewing Company. We did not get pie, we fell asleep in a too much wine induced state around 10 p.m. but we did get to play Scrabble. All in all, success!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tales of Tunisia

Have you heard of a shower? I have but apparently the smellies 2 rows in front of me from Detroit to Paris had not. How can they not tell they stink? Pepe Le Peu smells better. What about the rude guy in front of me who slammed back in his seat and spilled my soda sitting on my tray all over my pants. Yes, there was a bit of yelling. Luckily, I carry clothes in my carry-on - I had to change my pants hour 3 in to the flight. Next up movies - I decided to watch GI Joe: The Last Cobra and I fell asleep - need I say more? Next up, Termination Salvation - how could it be worse than GI Joe? It was! Next up, The Hangover, which the French renamed "A Very Bad Weekend." Why change it? It was awesome as is. Something really got lost in the translation there.

In Paris, I had to take a shuttle from terminal 2E to 2F so I boarded the smelly bus and off we go. All was fine until our Formula One Bus Driver whipped around a corner. I was standing and I went flying across the width of the bus falling directly into a man's mid section in a big bear hug formation. Not my most graceful move! Besides being utterly embarrassed, I wrenched my shoulder and neck again and am now heavy on the pain killers. What fun!

Then I decided to go to the hotel spa for a Hamman which is a Turkish type bath/scrub and that is when it got interesting. The spa was very nice and I wore my 2 piece tankini bathing suit to the service. First the woman put me in the steam room for what she said was going to be 5 minutes, I swear it was more like 15 minutes and I felt like steamed broccoli and finally had to go stand in the hall until she cam back because I was way too hot. Then she said she would do the body scrub in a room within the steam room so I was in for another 25-30 minutes of this oppressive heat. We entered this private room and she wanted me to get completely undressed which really isn't my bag, so I agreed to the top only. Given that she did not speak English at all, French very little and we were not connecting in Arabic she was not happy that I had my bottoms on. She then tried to wrestle them off, but I prevailed and my service continued. She buffed me within an inch of my life, but my skin is so smooth.

On the last day, I decided to go tandem parasailing with my friend John. First of all, we started with the price negotiation. The worker said 260 dinars for 2 people, I said no f'in way. As we walked away, he said 60 dinars for 2 people. $22 each was more like it! So we gave the man the money and then we had to walk down the beach. As the man took off, John and I ran after him on the beach so he didn't run off with our money. Baywatch we were not! By the time we got to the boat, we were exhausted. Our ride took off from the beach and the view was spectacular. All was well until the landing. John had to steer us into the beach. As we started to descend, we looked down, and we were over the street full of traffic. A little course correction and we came in on the beach. After a missed signal - the instructor said "run" and I picked my legs up by mistake and we sort of slid into a not so graceful landing. :)

From that rush, it was off to ride a camel, which was fun until the dismount. Instead of sitting down back legs first, the camel sits down front legs first so it was like a bucking bronco ride. A little bit of screaming and I was safely on the ground again.

All in all, a fun trip to Tunisia, can't wait for my next JCI adventure!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Zany Times at Zingerman's

I love Zingerman's. It is an Ann Arbor institution that all the townies know about. People come far and wide for their great food! I love the bakehouse for Turkey Chili and Grilled Cheese. I love creamery and their burnt sugar gelato. The Roadhouse sucks me in with their Macaroni and Cheese, while the Deli's Reuben reminds me of Katz's NYC deli. The classes they offer are awesome and Linda, Mary Jo and I try to go several times a year. We would go weekly if we could afford, but alas, good food is not cheap.

Zingerman's classes are always an adventure. Linda and I went to a Pasta and Sauces class in January where we go to sample different pastas and sauces from around the world. All was going well into a woman walked into the class 45 minutes late (they are only 2 hour classes) and disrupted everyone. Then to make matters worse, she had ordered food to be delivered - matzo ball soup to be exact, because she does not like pasta. Hello? Did the class name Pastas and Sauces not give it away? After getting her settled, the class continued.

In February, I went to the class Foods from the Other Americas. Linda had to cancel at the last minute so I enlisted Scottie to go with me. We should have had rules before going. First off, we were asked our experience with Latin or South American foods. I was talking about Brazil and Panamanian foods from my trips, Scottie said Taco Bell. Really is that considered an ethnic food at all? I was dealing with an amateur. Next up, discussing a spice that shares a name with a slang sexual term. Scottie whips out the IPhone, goes to and decides to enlighten the class. He got shushed rather quickly by the instructor and is probably banned indefinitely!

In March, Wendy took me to a Pralus Rendez-Vous Chocolate class which was to die for. That was until a class participant decided she knew more about chocolate and decided to usurp the class form the instructor and try teaching it herself. She had to be contained so the class could be continued. I later ran into that woman in Cost Plus and she again started telling me all about chocolate and her new business. I don't know you and I don't like you - enough said!

Tom took me to a Mozzarella making class at the creamery for my birthday. We made 5 kinds of mozzarella, took 6 pounds home from the event and had cheese and stomachaches for the next 2 weeks. My Mom made friends with the Zingerman's owner at the Roadhouse when he was pouring our water. He ended up autographing my cookbook. Liz and I did the Zingerman's tour - 5 stops in 24 hours for a t-shirt. We were full, but happy!

Zingerman's is just one of those little things in life that make me happy! Besides, there is never a dull moment.

NOTE: This will most likely be my last blog until November 23rd. I am off to Africa on vacation and probably will be at the beach on the Mediterranean in my free time. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kooky Kamping

A few years back, Wendy and her boyfriend, me and my boyfriend and another couple went camping over Memorial Day weekend on Lake Michigan. Those people who know Michigan, know that this was a risky proposal. Depending on Mother Nature, you could either have 80 degree weather or 30 degree weather. Well as was our luck, we got the later. We got to the campsite on Friday and were of course, way under dressed. So as we set up, we sent to guys to the local Kmart for the 15 things we had forgot and instructions to buy gloves and hats for us since we were freezing. This trip took over an hour. As we sat there shivering, the guys at the campsite took pity on us and asked us over to their fire. Of course, we said yes, and by the time the guys got back, we were drinking with our new guy friends, and eating strawberries around a campfire. Needless to say, we had some unhappy boyfriends.

The gloves turned out to be a disappointment as well. Given it was May, the only gloves they could find were gardening gloves so the 3 of us walked around with huge, man-sized gloves for the rest of the weekend. Next up, getting the tents set up. My boyfriend had purchased the Taj Mahal of tents, that you could stand up straight in and had 3 rooms. We were like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, ours was too big, our friend's was too small (their feet hung out the tent) and Wendy's was just right (a proper size tent for 2 people and a little crowded with their dog).

Dinner was next and the wind was making it hard to cook the food on the fire. My engineer wanna be boyfriend decided to build a heat shield out of aluminum foil to encircle the fire pit to direct the heat to our food. What is it with men and fire? Really? They were so proud of this heat shield, they took pictures of it! At least our food cooked finally.

As we lay there the first night looking like the Michelin man, I could not help to fantasize about my bed. I was in the sleeping bag with sweat pants, a sweatshirt, 2 shirts, socks and my man hand gloves freezing. Then Wendy's dog Chelsea started snoring, LOUD! I mean we could hear her across the campsite in our tent.

As we rose for day 2 of this camping adventure, we decided we were going home that night. No more Arctic camping for us!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I am NOT the next Lance Armstrong

As my Mother said, "Ever since we put you on a 2 wheel bike, we knew you were an accident waiting to happen." Looking back over my bicycle career, she is probably right. We used to summer at Fish Creek where we used to bike 5 miles in the morning, bike to the beach, and then bike 5 miles in the evening every day for weeks at a time. You would think I would be an Olympic cyclist by now. Sadly, that is not the case.

First, I have the attention span of a hummingbird. I get bored easy so biking around the camp sight every day led to distraction. I would be people watching and counting the number of fires instead of watching the traffic and the road. When I was about 10, I ran into a parked trailer sitting on the edge of the road and cut my eye open. A parked trailer, it is not like it is small like a stick. It was attached to a truck and probably slept 6. As I lay there on the ground bleeding, the park ranger came by. Me, my Mom and my bike were loaded into the truck and it was off to our campsite we went.

Not to be outdone as I young teenager, I decided to bike down the mountain from our house to my grandmother's house with my parents and my sister. I am not sure why we decided to do this, but not more than 1/2 a mile from home, I hit a patch of dirt and went flying off the bike. Dad had to bike home to get the truck to pick me and my bent bike up. No more trips to grandma's on the bike!

Junior year, I decided to bike to finals. Why on earth my Mother let me do this is still a mystery. Well my bike got caught in the railroad track, the bike stopped, I did not and my face slid across the pavement. As I pushed my crinkled bike up the steep school hill trying not to bleed on my cute navy shirt and white shorts (I was looking tres cute), I knew this was not good. In NY state, Juniors take state-administered finals so if you miss then, you fail. No exceptions. The nurse cobbled my face together with some butterflies, we called my Mom and off I went to take my English exam with a killer headache.

As soon as it was over, my Mom rushed me to Saratoga hospital. By then, my eye was so swollen, they could not stitch so I was given pain killers and medicine to help with the swelling. Back to school to take another state exam - an oral and written French test. I could barely speak English coherently at that time, I knew this was going to be lots of fun!

The next day, I had a finals break so it was off to have some plastic surgery on my eye before taking my Chemistry the final the next day complete with huge gaping bandage. I was a sight for sore eyes! I am happy to let you know I got "A"s on all the exams even with the drama!

For years after this, I avoided bikes like the plague. I preferred my own 2 feet or vehicles with 4 wheels. One year, my ex wanted us to start biking. After telling him the story and showing him the scar that I still have 18 years later from the last great accident, I thought I had convinced him that biking was not a good idea. That was until a bike showed up for my birthday - but this time with a bike helmet. Whoever invented these, where were you 25 years ago? Why are they in vogue now but made fun of when I was growing up? I could have been spared quite a lot of pain!

I hate to say that the bike still only gets used a couple of times of year. I like the exercise bike - I rode my old one until the wheel burnt off. I like the tandem bike - I will pedal as long as I can look around and not worry about traffic and steering. I like watching unicyclers in parade reveling in how good a rider these people are. I even braved my fear in Hawaii by biking 26 miles down the volcano with my husband on our honeymoon and did not end up in the ER while there. But biking like running, is something I would rather reserve for when someone is chasing me and I need to get away!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Engagement Surprise

I am more of a glass half empty kind of girl. You have to earn my trust before I give it. So my theory with engagements and wedding was simple - not on holidays, not on my birthday. I do not want my special days ruined if we get divorced or worse, you die! I know glass half empty, but that's how it is.

So for my 33rd birthday Mary Jo was throwing me a birthday party and I was excited. It was going to be a blow out - over 40 people were invited. Tom and I went out to dinner before and then we went to Scottie's for the party and I started trying the martinis that Fay was mixing. There were 3 kinds and my glass was never empty, so I started to get a bit tipsy as we went on.

At one point in the night, Tom was no where to be found. I found him in the spare bedroom practicing his speech. He had been instructed by Mary Jo to give a birthday speech at 9 p.m. sharp! I wanted him to join the party but he said he needed to practice. I was like say "Happy Birthday, let's eat cake!" Hey, remember I am now more than a wee bit tipsy. Finally, I left him muttering to himself as I went to find a refill.

Speech time came and I was seated (to prevent drink spillage and potentially falling down) and Tom started his speech. It started off "We are all here to celebrate Michelle's birthday, blah, blah, blah" and the next thing I knew he was down on one knee with a ring. Wait, what just happened? I was speechless (which if you really know me, knows this happens about as often as a meteor shower) for a few seconds (long seconds if you ask Tom) and then I said yes. The rest of the evening turned into a engagement/celebration party.

It was on to presents where good old Scottie too Hottie shouted "Thanks Tom, now everyones gifts are crap!" Leave it to Scottie to liven up the party. The next morning, I was still in shock, severely hung over, and had a girl's day planned for my birthday. Numerous phone calls needed to be made. And you know what, I was only slightly mad that he broke my commandment of no birthdays and holidays. But he got me good, it was the biggest and best surprise ever!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Travel Around the World

I love traveling. I go stir crazy if I do not have a trip to plan or one to look forward to. If I am in the office for more than a few weeks at a time, watch out! My mood plummets like the Stock Market Crash! I have been lucky to have been able to travel to 48 of the US States and over 35 countries around the world, but there are definitely some adventures that stick with me for than others. Here goes:

* The Jack the Ripper Tour in London - this was one of the scariest tours I have every been on. The guide took us around the city showing us where Jack the Ripper killed and giving us all the gruesome details. The last murder took place 3 blocks from our hotel. As I started freaking out, getting a wigged out, my boyfriend at the time looked at me dead serious and said "Jack is about 110 right now, I know you can take him!" After I stopped laughing, I was able to go to sleep and only had mild nightmares.

* Dinner in Malta - as we went down a deserted unpaved road for nearly 20 minutes. I thought I was in the movie Deliverance. After I was convinced that I was not going to be left for dead, we came to the most beautiful clearing with an outdoor restaurant where we spent the most enchanted evening straight out of a movie.

* Any trip to Vegas with Wendy - have you seen the movie The Hangover? While our trips have not been that crazy, we have not lost anybody, but we have had our fair share of interesting times. We have been yelled at up and down the Strip as Wendy insists on taking pictures in casinos at strange and interesting people and things.

We waited in line for 4 hours to get into the nightclub Rain, made new friends while waiting, only to stay a 1/2 hour in the broken glass littered floor. We have visited a fortune teller numerous times to figure out our love lives, gotten back tattoos because we could and have spent hours watching Yankees Baseball in the Caesar's Sports Book.

The list continues with Tom - the wind tunnel pool on our Honeymoon where we had to hold on for dear life just to get some sun, the Christmas tree extravaganza in Chicago where we drank too much Gluwein and my concussion/disfiguring bump at Wendy's wedding.

Who knows what my future trips will bring - Africa looms in 6 days; Tom and my baseball odyssey is scheduled for March and we are ready for our 5 year anniversary trip to the Greek Isles. A girl has got to dream....

Crazy Christmas Party

2003 was a great year - Wendy and I spent most of the year in California and we were enjoying life. We decided to throw a Christmas party with our crazy work friends - boss and all. We knew it was going to crazy, but no one knew the extent of what was going to go on. Let's start with the fact that our boss who we loved told us earlier in the day that he was leaving the company to take another opportunity. We were crushed. So we left work early Friday and went home to set up for the party and started drinking. At like 3 o'clock. By 7:30 when the party started, we had down 2 bottles. That's when the fun began!

All our close work friends were there and our friend Jimmy* (*the names have been changed to protect the innocent) decided that Cosmopolitans should be the drink of the evening. So he started whipping them up as quick as he could and before you knew it, the two sober people at the party had to go on a liquor run since it was only 8:30 p.m. As the night progressed, things when downhill fast. Our friend Bob* brought the guy he was dating (Pete*) who no one had met before. We are open friends so we were excited to meet him until he started chasing our boss around the kitchen smacking his ass. Then we were like, really? Where did you find him? The lack of food in me caused an incident around 9 p.m. where I felt the need to go and hug the porcelain g*d for the next 3 hours. My boyfriend at the time, trying to be supportive, joined me to make sure I did not do something stupid. As I dealt with my issues, he wheeled a TV into the bathroom to keep himself entertained. 3 hours later, after a quick shower and a tooth brushing, I reemerged a new woman ready to continue the night.

Things has not gotten better. A co-worker's wife who we were meeting for the 1st time was kissing everyone in sight, the meatballs had burned in the crock pot and the whole house reeked and Wendy's new boyfriend thought we were all f'in crazy. Pete was now dancing with our bosses wife inappropriately and my boyfriend was shoveling the Cheetos in trying to make up for the 3 hours of lost party!

The party ended about 3 a.m., a 6 month Cosmo ban was implemented and this party will forever live in infamy no matter where we all work now!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Accident Prone

I am prone to accidents. Well I did not fall off my diaper changing table like my sister did, accidents followed me at a young age. One of the first accidents I remember was when I was about 5 and I was tobogganing with my 2 cousins at their house on Thanksgiving Day. I was in the front as I was the youngest and it started off fun. We were swooshing through the newly fallen snow. All was fine and dandy until the toboggan began careening at break neck speeds through the woods and we were headed straight for a tree. My cousins jumped, did not pull me off or even tell me to jump, and I hit the tree, I hit it HARD! Off to the ER with a separated issue. I was so mad and embarrassed, I remember wanting to eat my Thanksgiving Dinner on a TV tray in my closet, but my mother was having none of it! Hello, sling, nice to meet you!

Next up, cheerleading. Cheerleading was a dangerous sport at my school. We practiced 2 hours a day, 6 - 7 days a week, plus gymnastics class for 3 hours on Monday nights. We were hard core, we took part in competitions and we practiced more than the basketball players we cheered for. One night at gymnastics, I came down wrong off the trampoline and sprained my ankle. As I hobbled to the car, I thought it would get better. By the time the 30 minute car ride was over, I literally crawled to my room. My parents were sleeping, they don't know anything, it will be fine in the morning. Was I delirious from the pain? When I woke up in the morning, I could not walk, my ankle looked like a melon and it was BLACK all over. I had to call my Mom into the room and off to the ER it was. Hello, cast, nice to meet you!

Another time in high school, I stubbed my toe badly into the door jam in our hallway at home. I was barefoot, and I started crying and writhing in pain. My Mom who thinks I am prone to histrionics totally did not believe. (I do not understand why she thinks I am melodramatic, because I am totally not!) As I yelled that my toe was broken, she came over to examine it. She decided to wiggle it for good measure and when we heard the "Crack" we knew it was broken (or as least it was then!) I still pull out the "You Broke My Toe Card" whenever she does not take my injuries seriously. Hello, toe breaker Mom, nice to meet you!

Since then there has been a blood clot from cheerleading, a concussion from my dorm room wall (don't ask) and a softball injury that is unparalleled (refer to my NYC on Crutches blog for more details on the debacle). All in all, I am probably a klutz, but my sister rivals or surpasses me. She raised her hand to take off her shirt in her bedroom one night, got her hand stuck in the ceiling fan and ended up with a broken hand. I've never done that :)!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why Are All the Crazies at Starbucks?

Wendy and I have a routine on most Saturday mornings when we are both in town. We meet at Starbuck's, drive out anyone from our favorite seats and drink coffee, eat breakfast sandwiches and play Scrabble. It is 1 1/2 - 2 hours of peace in an otherwise hectic week. However, every time we go to Starbuck's, crazy things happen.

One day, it was garbage day at Starbuck's. Everyone leaving the drive-thru pulled over to the garbage can and decided to clean out their car. Why? This is not the car wash. You are at a food establishment, not the city dump. We watched in disbelief as the garbage can became full in our short time at the Bucks.

Another time, we were outside enjoying the sun and a homeless man and his belongings comes up and sits down. He starts talking to himself. I am not callous - I felt bad for the man and if he asked for money, I would have gone in and bought him some food and a coffee, but he did not ask. This reminded us of a time when we were in Chicago and a woman decided to take a bath in a public store restroom. Another bad story, but I beg you, why do I have to witness all of these crazy things?

Finally, this past Saturday was smile day. Minding our own business, people would walk by, stop and stare at us and then smile. It was Halloween, but we were not wearing costumes! Sure, we were probably a little scary - I had just come from Jazzercise and Wendy had crazy Saturday morning hair, but really. Two women playing Scrabble and drinking coffee does not seem like it should garner an audience? Oh well, people smiling at us made us feel happier as we left to continue our day!

Wendy and I relish our girl time at Starbuck's. We complain about the wacky music, we laugh at the motley group of people who come in for coffee and we curse the outdoor tables that are so shaky that several of our drinks have fallen victim to them. But, it reminds of us of our younger days and our great friendship, so that is all good!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Vampire Ball - Part II - I'm Going to Suck Your Blood!

Well besides having a little bit of food poisoning and fever from the steak tartare and quail's egg (I think), things are OK, so let's continue with our 4th course:

Dover Sole Meuniere - this was to die for, pardon the vampire pun! This fish melted in your mouth and reminded Wendy and I about the time we went to L.A. Farm in Santa Monica. Running late for our dinner reservations due to traffic (huge surprise in CA), we called the restaurant and told them we were running late. We did not want to the snooty hostess to not seat us after we finally arrived after being in the car for an hour and a half. A pleasant man answered, listed to our plight, and assured us it was no problem. Did we dial a number in the Midwest? People are not that nice in L.A.! When we got there and were seated, the chef came out to see us. Sorry to hear that your drive here was so bad, I'm glad you made it. What? He was the nice man that answered the phone. We were speechless. This wasn't a Mom and Pop restaurant, Jennifer Aniston eats here for frick sake, and he cares about us? We were sold and had the best salmon meal of our life!

Next up, leg of lamb! I am not sure I have ever had lamb before but it was amazing in this stew concoction that they sat in front of us. This reminded of us of a great steak dinner at Whist in Santa Monica. It reminded us of how Wendy spilled a whole bag of Goldfish crackers as we pulled up to the valet at the restaurant with our clearly WT dirty car. It reminded us of the $12 Voss water they served us (we caught on after the 1st bottle) and how we were parched when we left the restaurant and ran around the block to Ralph's to buy a 6-pack of Fiji water as soon as we left this really expensive restaurant where we had had one of the nest meals of our lives!

Finally, it was dessert time - Rum Babas with Melomelo - otherwise known as yummy goodness! Since Tom was feeling left out of the L.A. memories, he declared this course to remind him of Puerto Rico, the Bacardi rum factory and the crazy amounts of food that contained rum that we ate on vacation. We agreed whole hearted and that rounded out our fun evening.

As we tried to right our full selves out of the crowded corner booth, we decided that the night was a success. Now, if only are tarot card fortunes will come true....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vampire Ball - Part I - Let Your Fangs Hang Out

Last night, Wendy, Tom and I headed out to the Zingerman's 4th Annual Vampire Ball benefiting the local charity Food Gatherers, that provides food for those in need in Washtenaw County. As we tasted the great 6 course meal, it seemed that every plate conjured up memories of other restaurants and adventures, mostly in L.A.

The first course was Steak Tartare and Quail's Egg. This reminded Wendy and I of the time we went to Patina. We had saved our food budget for that night and still we were astounded by the prices. On our per diem, we could each have a glass of wine, Wendy a salad and me, tuna tartare. Not to be embarrassed by the situation, we casually told the waiter, "We just want something light. We have another event to go tonight." Being L.A., the land of the skinny, he thought nothing of it and still provided us with great service. Little did he know that our next event was the Dodgers game a couple miles down the road. As we zoomed there, changing into ball game gear in the car, our first stop in the park was the hot dog stand. We were starving!

Next up was a Normandian Bouillabaisse. This reminded us of Chimayo in Huntington Beach and my obsession for crab cakes one week. We spent 4 nights in search of the perfect crab cakes, going to obscure restaurants that were out of the way and they were right there at one of our favorite places. Mike just shook his head, and continued to drive us around, without saying a word!

3rd course was Loire Grape Salad. While our minds automatically drifted to France, it also made us think of the pomp and paparazzi frenzy that is The Ivy. A celebrity magnet, this restaurant has press camped out in front of it all the time. Lunch there was again an ordeal - fruit juice, lemonade, salad, asparagus and bread cost $60! As we basked in our fabulousness, we knew we would be eating fish taco's for dinner!

I'll talk about courses 4 - 6 tomorrow but we had a blast last night. Tarot card readings, a book reading by a local author, crazy table companions, and free beer and wine made the night a success! And all this fun for a good cause also!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adventures in Atlanta!

Let's just start by saying that Helen Keller (HK) and I lived in an apartment complex that was on 20/20 because there was a murder there. Luckily, we found out about this AFTER we moved out. For us the location was good, a college friend of HK's lived upstairs and it was affordable.

HK and I never had a dull moment in ATL. Having no classes on Friday afternoons, we always set out after lunch at Taco Bell or our favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Loros for some sort of adventure. Whether it was shopping, checking out a new sight or basically driving around aimlessly, there always seemed to be a crazy person waiting to cross our path! First of all, we thought we must of worn signs on our foreheads that said "Talk to Me!" Constantly randoms would approach us and start conversations for no apparent reasons. What do we look like Oprah? We don't know you and we do NOT care what you think! We even had a sign for the other one in case we got cornered by a rambling idiot and we needed a distraction to get away!

Once at The Gap, I was searching the rack for the right size and color of a shirt I wanted. A lady approached, asked me my size and proceeded to use the long grabby stick to pull the shirt from the upper racks. Only when I was in the dressing room, did HK see the same woman checking out. She did not work at The Gap, she was a customer. Are you kidding me? This is taking Southern Hospitality to the extreme!

Another time, we decided to go to the Renaissance Fair and we decided to get our hands dipped in colored wax for a souvenir. We were obviously drunk at the time - what kind of souvenir is that? WT souvenirs that is! Anyways, we saw the sign that says "$15 for 1 hand, $25 for 2." Thinking we were going to save $, we know how to divide $25 by 2 people, we asked for that. That was until we found out, we had to hold hands and dip together. Um, not so much! We both came home with our individual rainbow hands (the attendant told HK she had man hands and he barely escaped the dipping alive) and they now reside in the landfill. Maybe they make a good home for a mouse when it rains!

The last adventure in ATL that I am going to share with you today is about our nights in Buckhead. We were regulars at Jelly Rolls, always called on our friend Drew to drive and were often found singing, dancing, skipping or cart wheeling down the streets at 2 in the morning!

Not one of the most dignified time in our lives, but definitely one of the most fun!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Wendy and I were in California for work (we spent a lot of time in California if you can not tell) and we were ready start our work week. We spent Sunday night at our hotel and went into the office first thing Monday morning. When I showered Monday morning, I had a bump on my leg about the size of a time. Thinking I had a mosquito bite, I thought nothing of it. As work continued, I started feeling feverish, sick and my leg was throbbing. As the day progressed the bump on my leg grew to the size of a saucer and I was having trouble walking. Houston, we have a problem. We marked the edges of the bump and checked it every hour to see if it was growing. I was the circus attraction of the day for both Wendy and the client!

After hoping it would stop getting bigger, I realized at about 11 pm that night that I had better go to the hospital. Let me tell you, Long Beach ER waiting rooms are scary. After waiting about 3 hours and being bumped down the queue for the gun shot and stab victims, it was finally my turn. I had been bit my a brown recluse spider at the hotel. Are you kidding????????? These are hard core spiders. So then it was off to a 24-hour pharmacy (again in Long Beach) to try to get my 10 days of antibiotics while trying to understand the pharmacist that did not speak English. Returning to our hotel at about 3:30 a.m., now came the task of moving to another room ASAP!

After approaching the front desk manager, looking pathetic with my hospital bracelet on, I demanded a new room. Wendy, 2 hotel workers and I packed up my stuff and moved it to a different floor! The rest of the week passed in a drug-induced blur - fever, nausea, and sickness that even Mike's apple martinis could not fix. I was so out of it, I actually did not go out that week - that proves that I was truly sick! As I returned home to deal with the medical bills, HR told me this was the strangest case of workman's comp that they had ever seen!

Monday, October 26, 2009

All I Really Want is a Drink!

This past April, 14 of us packed up our suitcases and headed to Vegas for a long weekend. Brian, Jaime, Joel, Tom and I stayed at The Mandalay Bay. The first day there, we gathered in the room for some pre-dinner drinks before venturing out onto the Strip. Brian and Jaime's room had 4 glasses so they called down for more. Housekeeping told them it would be a $5 surcharge to bring more glasses to the room. Are you kidding me? They can be washed and reused! It costs $5 to have you drag your lazy a** down the hall with some super heavy (not) bar glasses. Please! Tom and I transported ours from our room and the party continued.

Then we decided to make some margarita's. A shaker beckoned to us on the bar shelf, but it was enclosed in shrink wrap. Never a good thing. Brian called down stairs to find out the deal with the shaker only to find out that if you opened it, you would be charged $30. Are we in the Twilight Zone? $30 to use a shaker, to buy a shaker. The same shaker was $12 in the gift shop down stairs. After asking housekeeping how much it would cost us to shake our own margarita with 2 glasses and being hung up on, we settled on stirring up the drinks as best as we could!

In college, Natalie, Carrie and I spent my 22nd birthday and spring break in Key West. Not known to be shy, we decided to hit the party scene to see how many free drinks I could get on my birthday. The night was long, the drinks were many and I did my first and only Jaegerbomb luge that night!

Helen Keller and I were preparing for a night out at the dueling piano bar - see, it is the pre-partying that gets me in trouble. We decided to play Scrabble, but we made it into a drinking game! If you did not score a certain number of points on every word, you simply had to drink some kool aid alcohol concoction. As the game wore on, we were a little crazier and we spilled a bit of red kool aid on the carpet. Meaning to prevent this from happening again, we went in search of a travel mug to use so we would be more careful. Being tipsy and unable to determine where all our travel mugs had run off to, we started rummaging for anything that could be used. We found a Mrs. Butterworth's syrup holder and she became our mascot and drink holder for the rest of the night. When Drew got there to pick us up, he was definitely not as amused with us as we were with ourselves!

Through the years, I have drank from a coconut, a tiki head, a fish bowl and a chalice in my quest for the most delicious drink. Nothing compares to a good old apple martini especially when you can whine lovingly to a good a great friend and say "Make me an apple martini!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dear Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature -

I am writing to complain to you about 2009. I know that sounds like a pretty broad complaint, but let me break it down for you. Winter was horrible! There was too much snow, as I travelled back and forth to Maine it seemed there was always a new foot of snow regardless of which way I was travelling. You caused me to become too intimate with the airports.

Spring wasn't much better. The gloom is unbearable. Would it kill you to give us people living in Michigan a day or 2 of sun in a 3 month period? Truthfully, everyone would be much nicer to one another.

Summer, come on, summer is supposed to be 12 weeks not 2 weeks! Why must you give us rain every weekend when we are cooped up in the office 50 hours on weekdays! Did you set your weather dial? It is not supposed to be 95 and humid in Switzerland. They don't even have air conditioning from God's sake!

Fall - did you forget that there are 4 seasons to a year? I am either wearing my parka and scarf or I am in carpi's and a t-shirt. Where are the sunny, chilly days where I can look all cute in jeans and a sweater and my cute boots as I parade around town? I need those cute weeks to steel myself from the frumpiness of winter!

Well even though it is has been less than 365 days, we are back to winter already. No snow but torrential rain down pours that are affecting my fall softball and tailgating. Don't even think about raining or SNOWING on our girl's wine weekend!

If you do not take immediate action, I will be forced to take this complaint to your superior - El Nino and you don't want his wrath!

A very dissatisfied customer,
Weather Weary

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Just Want to see a Good Play

I love the theater! My first experience with NYC theater was a field trip in middle school to see the off Broadway show "Nunsense." Since then I have seen tens and tens or even hundreds of plays on Broadway, in the West End, off Broadway, local theaters and traveling shows. Of those, my Top 5 would be:

1) Blood Brothers - amazing and eerily similar to my life at the time. It is about twins born on July 18th. My boyfriend at the time was an identical twin born on July 18th.

2) Rent - another not so happy play about AIDs and HIV but the songs are amazing like One Song Glory and Light My Candle.

3) Avenue Q - what's the fuzz all about? Puppet Sex and the song "The Internet is for Porn" make it a must see. It is the most hilarious thing I have ever seen!

4) Mamma Mia - I never buy the soundtrack at the theater, but I stormed the souvenir booth at intermission because this play was just so happy that I needed the soundtrack now!

5) I'm still waiting for this one, but Legally Blonde, Miss Saigon and the way too long Les Miserables are on the bubble.

Now, let's talk about duds. How about one of my first forays into local theater in Ann Arbor where I dragged Helen Keller, Scottie and Bob to a play called Closetland where the actors went around yelling "99% of all women who wear black underwear are closet whores?" What? Are you kidding me?

How about the time my ex dragged my to see The Mystery of Charles Dickens because the discount ticket man who he had befriended told him it was good? That was 3 hours of a one man play that I could have done without!

Just recently, my husband and I went to see The Blonde, The Brunette and the Vengeful Red Head. Let me just say I should have learned my lessons about 1 actor plays - refer to The Mystery of Charles Dickens.

I still love the theater. I love getting dressed up, sitting in the old, historic play halls and seeing a story come to life on the stage. What's Up Next? Escanaba at the Purple Rose Theater and Christmas Carol'd for the holidays. I would not have it any other way!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Myriad of Music

This week 5 of us have been crammed into a window less, stuffy room working on a massive report generation session and it is boring, so we have busted out my I-pod for amusement. This has been proved to be a dicey situation! I need to temper the rap with the explicit lyrics against the sappy love songs to something that is PG rated for my employees. What I found out is that my music is all over the board!

We started with a Bruce Springsteen retrospective as Bruce is one of my favorites. My friend Liz is obsessed with him, and even gave up her parking spot to him in Red Bank, NJ. I still have the picture of his car that she took!

Then we moved on to Bon Jovi! I love Bon Jovi almost more than life it self! I flew home to NY to see Bon Jovi in concert. We listened to the early stuff, the young gun period and the new stuff. We almost O'd on Bon Jovi today!

We did a get a bit of rap thrown in for good measure. A little Black Eyed Peas, "My Humps" and Jay-Z "Run this Town" (since I am missing his concert tonight) but I drew the line at "My Darling Nicki!"

Next up, a little 80's rock to finish out the day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fashion Faux Pas

Last Friday, we went to an 80's party with the Jaycees. As I was trying to figure out the easiest way to look like I was Irene Cara's understudy in Flashdance, I wondered how I was going to find a get up without having to buy a 2nd complete Halloween costume. Well, it appears that the 80's are now retro - Claire's is actually selling this stuff again! Pink leg warmers - check, fingerless gloves - check, blue eye shadow - check, blond wig - why the heck not?

This party made me think about all the trends through the years that were probably fashion don'ts. Let's think back to the 70's when I was born. All over plaid patterns fill my baby pictures. My Mom with her waist length hair and bell bottoms kept me in Shirley Temple ringlets until I went to kindergarten.

How about the 80's? We were Madonna wanna bes with the teased hair, multiple pairs of socks over our jeans, big feathery hair and huge belts. Who in their right mind would wear a big belt now to make our hips look even bigger? Not me, I do not even like belts period, they are claustrophobic!

The 90s were kinda unmemorable. We wore crazy clothes in college - boy's boxer shorts, tie dye shirts (trying to look hippish) and cut off jean shorts as we lived the college life. We had unitards that we wore with jeans to the club, even though none of were dancers and they were a pain in the ass when you had to go to the bathroom!

The 2000's were used to build up a work wardrobe, ATL and Macy's have become Staples. I get my tanks at Old Navy. They ought to come with a warning. They do not hold up well when soaked on the Animal Kingdom Kahli Rapids! That was the end of my $2 tank this year! I like retro tees know and could live in comfy clothes? I'm probably more conservative with my fashion choices now but I do have jeweled Burberry shoes, an aqua sweater with fur trim for apres ski and a perfect pair of track pants that make me feel very J Lo like.

Fashion is my friend. Through faux pas and fashion hits, one thing is for certain, you can never have too many clothes.

Can you guess which Madonna wanna be is me?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Freaky Food

Whenever I travel internationally, I never know what kind of food to expect. Especially when I am at JCI events, during the extremely busy days, you never know when and what you are going to get to eat. I always have granola bars stuffed in my bag, as those of you who know me, know that a hungry Michelle is a crazy Michelle!

On my first JCI trip to Turkey I was out to dinner with the Senators and we all ordered fish, the house specialty. The fish arrived alright - complete with head, tail, and skins. As I sat there staring at the fish, lots of thoughts were running through my head. Maybe I should have paid more attention to my father when we was cleaning fish when I was growing up. Maybe I should have ordered steak, but what would I have got on my plate? How was I going to do something with this fish without drawing a lot of attention to my discomfort? As I sat there contemplating, one of the women grabbed my plate and skillfully boned and beheaded the fish in under 30 seconds. After thanking her profusely, I was able to enjoy the rest of my dinner with no issue.

Then it was off to Malta. After an awesome day with the Board of Directors on the island of Gozo, we headed off to eat dinner. We started down this bumpy dirt road that was literally on the side of a cliff. Had these people seen deliverance? Was I that unpopular? Would I ever get home and marry Tom in 2 weeks? After 20 minutes, we came to a clearing where an outdoor restaurant against the cliffs with the water crashing proved to be absolutely gorgeous! This was one of the best meals of my life after I realized I was going to love to eat my dinner!

Finally, I was in Switzerland this summer and we were sick of walking around looking for a restaurant so we stopped at this famous restaurant and asked for a menu. The menu only had dessert and wine on it, so I asked for the dinner menu. The waitress perfunctory told me that there was no menu, there was 1 entree - steak and fries for $40. Exhausted and famished, we said fine. What arrived was a small piece of steak (less than a palm size piece) and a heaping plate of fries. Given that we had paid $40, we all ate everything on our plates. While we were waiting for the check, another plate of steak and fries showed up at everyone place. You get 2 servings so they fries don't get cold while you are eating. Who knew?

As I travel around the world, food is always interesting. I have had Green Tea McFlurries in Korea, McMarsala Burgers in India, tofu dishes and other dishes where there is no American translation. I have tried shark (it tastes like chicken), snake (it takes like chicken), fish crackers (they do not take like chicken) and everything in between. I have tried sushi in Panama, pizza in India as well as Korean BBQ in Korea.

Whether I like it or not, I will always try new things. Who knows, I might find my new favorite food, or my most memorable meal ever?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Squirrels and Beavers

Our obsession with squirrels and beavers started at the Hoover Dam. Tom and I and a couple of friends were taking a tour of Hoover Dam while we were in town for Wendy's wedding. We were over tired, over caffeinated and generally over giggly. In the most serious tone, our friend said to the guide "How many beavers were harmed in the making of this dam?" As were we laughing hysterically, people started looking at us strangely. The rest of the tour we ran around yelling "Beavers!"

A few months later, we were camping with Wendy and Dan in Three Rivers. We went out to dinner and as we were being seated, the waitress said, "I am going to seat you under the beaver." A stuffed beaver that was and of course the night deteriorated rapidly from there and we were suddenly elementary students who thought everything was so funny!

The movie "Up" was adorable. We loved Bob the Dog and his love of squirrels. At the Tigers - Red Sox game this spring, a squirrel came out on the field during the 2nd inning and ran around the entire field. Play was eventually stopped and security chased the menacing squirrel off the field, who promptly laid on the field wall and passed out of exhaustion. It was hilarious! The squirrel returned in the 5th inning to chase the Red Sox players around again and the entire stadium started yelling "Squirrel, Squirrel, Squirrel!" When we got home that night, we watched the recap of the game and the squirrel got more coverage than the players.

Now every time we see a squirrel, Tom yells "Squirrel!" and I start yelling "Beavers" at random times. I wonder what will be our next favorite animal?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

TV is Terrific!

My DVR is quite full right now. It is loaded with Eastwick, Top Chef: Las Vegas, Cougar Town, Modern Family, Bored to Death, Sons of Anarchy, The Hills, Melrose Place, 90210, Castle, Greek, FlashForward, Yankees Playoff games and The Vampire Diaries. That's not my whole repertoire - I am caught up on Grey's Anatomy and Gossip Girl and a couple of my favorite shows like Lost, WipeOut and Entourage are on hiatus. I admit it, my name is Michelle and I am a TV addict! It has been 8 hours since my last fix!

Why the interest in TV? Maybe it was my year in L.A. where every one was obsessed with movies, TV shows and the Biz. Maybe it is because TV is often more interesting than real life. In college, being near NYC, I had the opportunity to hit the Talk Show/Live TV Scene. Molly, Amanda and I went to the Sally Jesse Raphael Show. Yes, her red glasses are as ridiculous in real life as they are on TV!

A college friend got us into a SNL practice. We saw Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger (pre-divorce), Daniel Baldwin (pre-Dirty Sexy Money) and the old favorite UB-40. It was old school SNL - Chris Farley, Adam Sandler and David Spade. A once in a lifetime experience!

The David Letterman show is shot in a studio that is super cold - I wore my parka the entire time. The Drew Carey show takes over 4 hours to shoot a 1/2 hour show and they get mad if you need go to the bathroom. They are obviously not on the same page with my bladder! I am still yearning to see the Rachael Ray show and I want to take my Mom to see the Oprah show. But ya know what, as much as I like TV, my life ain't half bad :)!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Wonders of Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is so much fun! It is such a distinguished city with lots of history. I feel smarter every time I am there. During a period where I had an extreme obsession with John F. Kennedy, we went on a family trip there. I wanted to see the Zapruder film that shows the assassination of JFK so we sent a request to our legislator to ask for permission to visit the National Archives library. We arrived early (the whole fruit loop troop - Mom, Dad, Kiki, Grandma, Me) and went through the metal detectors, signed the necessary forms and were shuttled to the screening room. After 30 minutes of prep work, we went into the room and watched the 33 second video! 33 seconds! That's it? The 35 year old video was very grainy and hard to see. I made them replay this 3 times - I felt for all this effort, that was least they could do. I am not sure that I know who shot JFK but I know as much as people who were there!

Another time I visited D.C. to spend the weekend with my friend John. He was in town for a med school interview so the dates were set so I drove down from NY to hang out. Imagine our surprise when we went to first museum and found out that D.C. was in shut down because of the lack of an approved budget! Hardly anything was open - the Smithsonian museums were closed, the tours of the Capitol were kaput and you could forget about going in any of the monuments. What to do? What was open? We ended up watching a movie in Georgetown, visiting the National Botanical Gardens (this was open, go figure) to see a Poinsettia exhibit and we walked around A LOT looking at closed buildings! Why does stuff like this happen to me? Have you heard of such a thing?

Washington D.C. has been a great host to me over the years. I was just there for a work presentation and it was so much fun to check out the new Newseum. I have had crazy adventures in D.C. with my family, my friend Helen, with John, as part of my job with EF in college and it never disappoints. Who knows what the next adventure there will bring!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

College Softball - I Can't Believe I am Getting Paid for This!

I played softball since 7th grade. Except for a couple of years off recently and while I was in grad school, I have played softball for 21 years. There is not much in life that I can say I have done or ever wanted to do for 21 years, so I can probably say that I am committed to softball more than most people are committed to their marriages, their jobs, or even their kids.

At Marymount, I decided to go out for the softball team as a freshmen and made it along with several of my friends that I then spent the next 4 years playing with. Softball was a welcome distraction from the Chem lab, where I had been known to start a fire or two, and it got me off campus as we played various colleges in the metro NYC area.

One of the first games I remember playing was in Brooklyn. We boarded the mini bus/van and made the hour or so commute due to the heavy traffic. The field was in what looked to be a city park, a shady park to say the least. Homeless people were sleeping on benches, shady deals were being made, it would have made a great movie set! I knew things would be interesting when the Police showed up to supervise our game and make sure we could use the restrooms safely. I felt like we were playing a pick-up game of softball in a prison yard!

Surrounded on all 4 sides by streets as I stood in the outfield, I could hear the music emanating from the cars, rude men yelling stuff at us as they walked by and could feel the hustle and bustle of the city. Quite a different playing experience from the secluded Marymount field on a quiet suburban street.

As the game progressed, I was doing pretty well concentrating on the ball instead of the crazies all around until the 3 of us in the outfield heard a gun shot and we all dropped to the field like we were doing suicide push-ups. We all thought we were pretty smart in getting out of the way of the cross fire until the umpire trotted out to let us know that a car had just back fired and could we get up so the game could continue? Let's just say, the end of the game couldn't come too quickly!

As my years at Marymount passed, I was always looking for ways to make more spending money. I worked as a guide for the International School on Campus, prepped basic lab classes for my mentor, gave tours of the school as an Ambassador, ushered at events on campus, until I found a really sweet deal. I became a mini bus/van driver. So now as we went off to play softball, I got paid for the entire time I was gone and got to do something I loved! The team would load up, we would pile into the van and it was like our very own Partridge Family road trip every time! I had hit pay dirt with this job!

Now I play softball in a Rec and Ed league in Ann Arbor. There are no cattle calls, gun fire or crazy van rides. I don't get paid to play. But as an adult, there is at least beer, and that somehow makes it all OK.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Great Race through Old Delhi

Let's get this straight - New Delhi is not Delhi and Old Delhi is not Delhi and Old Delhi is not New Delhi. Very complicated stuff trying to learn our way around the cities referred to as New Delhi when we were there for JCI World Congress in 2008.

The first day there, Lori and I decided hired a guide and a driver for an 8 hour tour. After the guide looked at our list of 12 things we wanted to do, he said it would not be possible to see everything. I said it would and we will, so start driving! The first stop was at the Parliament where we got out to take pictures. It was all great until a monkey ran by us. We are not used to having monkeys scampering next to us, I mean, they have zoos for a reason, so we flew back into the car and were off to the next location.

As we zig zagged through the city, dodging rickshaws, elephants, cows and other cars observing no discernible traffic rules, we arrived in Old Delhi for a rickshaw ride. With our guide in the bike behind us, Lori and I squeezed (and I do mean squeezed - I was practically sitting on her lap) into the rickswhaw and we were off through the narrow streets. Narrow Streets is probably a misnomer, the pathways were more like single lane alleys where street vendors, animals, rickshaws and thousands of people jockeyed for a spot. As we zipped through the area, we firmly had our purses secured and were holding onto to each other and our possessions for dear life.

It was an exhilarating experience seeing the sights, hearing the sounds, and smelling the scents (at least the good smells) of this old part of the city. 2 weeks prior, The Amazing Race had run through these same alleys looking for clues. As we squealed as we went through narrow passageways, prayed that the live wires that had been cobbled together would not fall on us and kill us, we were enjoying ourselves and our adventure. That was until we turned to the right and a cow was literally inches from our faces. Then we started freaking out a little bit, much to the amusement of our driver/pedaler.

As we were speeding through one less crowded pathway, a young kid about 10 had his hand up high fiving people as they biked by. We were afraid he was going to try and steal our purses (we had been warned numerous times about pickpockets) so we steeled ourselves for attack and tried to look alert and vicious. Little did we know that the high-fiver would turn into a boob groper as he went by the Americans. Are you kidding me? Did that just happen?

As we continued the remainder of the trip, we were now sitting on one another's lap, holding onto our purses and cameras with a death grip and facing each other so we were not groped again. We looked like crazy and we became our own tourist attraction!

Who knew - things aren't always as they appear!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Buses are Never Boring

Buses are usually not my thing. Growing up I did not ride buses that often - cars, trains and planes were my usual modes of transportation. In college, I took the train to/from Marymount until I got a car. While Amtrak is not great, it got me where I needed to go. One time I decided to take Greyhound from Albany to NYC on my way to visit Liz. Let me tell you - I was one and done with Greyhound! It was extremely crowded, smelly and I thought I was going to be mugged the entire way. Armed with too many bags (do you see a theme here?) and my pair of ice skates, I nearly bounded off the bus into Penn Station. Who would have thought that Penn Station, where homeless people live and commuters rush through daily would be a welcome oasis? As I rushed to my commuter train, I decided that I was taking Amtrak home.

Just this past July in San Francisco, I decided to try the bus again. The concierge assured me it was the quickest way to get to the restaurant in rush hour. I was too exhausted to walk, had already deposited my car in overnight parking and was contemplating a taxi. I hopped on the crowded bus and not 2 blocks later, a really drunk man got on the bus and decided to drop his pants. Really? Could he have not waited for the next bus?

Buses in Europe are so much different. I went every where in Geneva on a bus. I went downtown and all around, I was able to navigate all over, even without a total command of the French language. In Monaco, Ben and I boarded a bus with no destination and toured Monte Carlo. Once we figured out which direction we were going (after about an hour), we reversed directions and got back to the hotel.

No smelly people, no safety issues, no naked people! I like European buses, but don't expect me to spend much time on any in the U.S.!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Misadventures in Sporting

Sports are a passion of mine. I love, love, love baseball (Go Yankees!), dig the hometown Tigers and the Pistons and have been swept up in the mania that is U of M football. However, put some sporting tickets in front of me and it doesn't matter if my favorite team is playing or not, I am there! As we've previously discussed, my adventures at Dodger Stadium are always crazy, but at other times, I wonder, did this really happen?

Let's start when Murph and I decided to go tailgating for a U of M game. Neither of were married at the time so we decided what the heck? Off to the golf course to tailgate with the Volvo, 2 bottles of vodka to make apple martinis with and some martini glasses. Wow! We were sooooo under prepared. No chairs, no food, nothing to amuse ourselves with. As we stood there deciding what to do next, we saw Murph's ex-boyfriend and off to crash his and his wife's party. Let's just say we were a hit with the guys, not so much with their wives and were very tipsy before heading into the stadium!

Then it was off to go old Tiger Stadium. 9 girls packed into 2 cars to go see the Yankees beat the Tigers when Paul O'Neill was still playing. Sitting only 13 rows from the field on the right field line was probably a mistake. Stone sober, we stood up, yelled "Paul" and all threw him air kisses! I have never seen an MLB player so embarrassed! Another time, the girls went to celebrate the arrival of Gary Sheffield signing with the Tigers. Dressed in chef hats, holding wooden spoons and signs, we looked like a bunch of deranged Julia Child's running around the stadium!

Finally, Lambeau Field was awesome when the Packers played the Colts. Having never been there, I needed a cheese head. I wore this cheese head the entire game as I continually apologized to people that I poked, prodded and pushed anyone in my 360 degree area with this hat. I can assure you I was the only one on the plane on Monday morning with a cheese head as a piece of carry-on luggage.

Sporting events for me are never boring. I have worn Yankees apparel and cheered loudly in Atlanta as they were beating the Braves in the World Series, I have gone to play-off games between the Tigers and Yankees in Detroit and taken lots of ribbing, and I have been on ESPN when a home run was hit to the NYY bleachers. All in all, definitely worth the price of admission.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New York City on Crutches

NYC on crutches suck. Even on a good day, I am not coordinated on crutches. I resemble a cross between Frankenstein and someone trying to learn how to use stilts. I start, I stop, I trip, I complain. I get bruises under my arms and callouses on my hands and I yell and swear a lot! In 2004, I hurt my leg playing softball on a Thursday and was scheduled to leave on Friday with NYC with Wendy and another friend.

The trip was a debacle. First of all, navigating through the airport was ridiculous. Trying to get me, my suitcase and my crutches through security and to the gate was a 3 person ordeal with one person pushing me in the wheel chair and the other wrangling 3 suitcases. We looked like refugees walking to a camp with all our worldly possessions. People walking parted like the Red Sea as we passed them in order to protect their appendages from being run over or hit with suitcases.

Once there, the whole escapade at La Guardia was repeated and then we were finally picked up by Wendy's brother and off to dinner. The next day we were off to a NYY game. What a cluster! Randy drove us to the stadium and dropped us in front but finagling my way to my seat was exhausting! I was like a fish swimming upstream trying not to get steamrolled by the rabid Yankee fans.

On Sunday, we were walking around Midtown and came across the Gay Pride Parade. Before you knew it, we were swept up in the excitement. We met Harvey Fienstein, were dancing in the streets like they do in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and saw so many interesting sights. It is definitely unlike any parade that I have ever attended!

As I hobbled back to the airport like an old man, I decided that I would never do NYC on crutches again! The weekend concluded with meeting Renee Zellweger on the plane ride home. She was rude, thought we were crazy and would not even pose for a picture for us!

That night, as I collapsed on my bed, I decided that I would try to be more careful playing softball.