Monday, August 31, 2009

Dodger Stadium - Baseball Park or Comedy Central

I have only been to Dodger Stadium twice and both times were an adventure. The first time, I was with my friends, Wendy and Tim. We fought rush hour traffic in L.A. (similar to dodging and weaving through a military zone) to get there on time after work. As we approached the Stadium, the neighborhood started to get bad. I mean, really bad, like were we lost and in Compton by mistake bad. Once we safely navigated the crack houses and the broken down cars on the surrounding streets we payed our $20 for parking (nothing is cheap in L.A. either). We entered the stadium gates and were immediately given free posters of the team, which we spent the rest of the night hitting each other on the head with and yelling through, like every other 30 year acting like they were 8 was doing.

Then came our first problem. We were not sitting together! How could this be? We bought 3 tickets on Ticketmaster in the same transaction yet Tim was seated 2 sections away from us. Did the person stuffing tickets into an envelope sneeze while he or she was packing our tickets and just pick up 3 tickets from the floor and put them into the envelope without caring if the seats were together? After finagling a seat for Tim near us, we realized out of the 40 - 50 sections in the entire stadium only ours and one other section was full. Here we are squashed in like sardines fighting for some room and the rest of the stadium could occupy 3 chairs each. Argh!

Then it was off to the beer line where another drama ensued. Apparently the Dodgers think we are all drunken lushes and limit beer sales to 2 at time. Since we had sent Tim for 3 beers (1 for EACH of us), he had to stand in line twice. Expletives were dropped, an argument ensued with the cashier and a rant that included "you can buy crack a block from here but I can not buy more than 2 beers" was muttered.

The rest of the evening passed with no incident.

The second time to Dodger Stadium Wendy and I prepared ourselves. I put on my Yankee shirt (it really doesn't matter that the Yankees weren't playing) and off we went. Without Tim though, we were late and we were potentially going to have to park on in the back 40 and trek a good mile uphill both ways to reach the stadium. Given that I had just had a softball accident and my leg was bruised from ankle to thigh, we thought we would approach a cute parking attendant and see if we could get closer. As we approached Wendy told me to look pathetic. The parking attendant stopped us, let's call him Rico, and asked up what we wanted. We batted our eye lashes and said I was injured and could we please, please, please park closer.

He gave us access to the media area to park, but as we were negotiating our primo parking lot, Wendy and I started smelling a horrible stench. I mean this smell was like a dead corpse rotting smell (not that I really know what that smells like, but this is what I think it must smell like). We asked Rico what was that horrible smell and he said it always smells like this! And somehow this was normal and we proceeded into the stadium with our shirts pulled up over our faces like Michael Jackson in his mask days.

This game they gave us blue furry hats to wear so the Stadium looked like a Smurf convention had invaded. That wasn't bad, but after the game, in our fight and flight response to get out of the ghetto and back to suburbs we forgot to take off our hats. We obliviously wore these hats down the 405 as we cruised at 70 mph to get back to the hotel. We went into the hotel with these hats on, stopped at the bar to check the final score (as we had left the game early), went to the front desk to request a wake up call all while looking like aliens from Smurfville. Finally one of the staff members asked us if we had been at the game and we asked him why with a straight face. At this point, he nearly fell over laughing, couldn't talk between the chuckles and just pointed at our heads!

The moral of the story is always remember to take your blue furry hats off before leaving the stadium, and if you ever go to Dodger Stadium make sure you are prepared for some laughs!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bucket List - Should I or Shouldn't I?

Most of you have probably heard of the movie "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It's about 2 dying men who in their limited time left on earth, use the money and resources of one of them to do all the things they ever want to do. This got me thinking about what would be on my bucket list. I mean I hope to live for another 85 years years and be the oldest person in the world at 120 years old, but it is good to have goals ya know. So when I was hanging out in Seattle airport, I saw a book called "101 Things to Do Before You Die" so I decided to buy it and see if it would give me any ideas.

Well the first thing I realized was that I live an extremely boring life! Out of these 101 things, I have only done about 6. One of them was take a hot air balloon ride. My husband and I took one this July and it was amazing. We could see 50 miles and were over 2,000 feet in the air. What they don't tell you is that it is incredibly hard to actually take a balloon ride in Michigan - it took us 13 attempts before the weather cooperated! The 1st year anniversary present caused countless arguments, disappointments and my husband a 2nd anniversary gift for me before it actually happened.

Another one I am proud of accomplishing is shooting targets. In April in Las Vegas, we went to a shooting range and I got to shoot an Uzi! It was cool and I felt like I could then conquer any action movie that came my way. What they did not tell me was I would be so tense when I was shooting, that I would strain my chess muscles and hurt for 3 days. At first, I thought I had been shot with a stray bullet or was having a heart attack and started freaking out appropriately at the shooting range. Once I was checked for no blood, I decided that I probably could go to the hotel and take a nap.

Some of the things on the 101 list sound fun. I would like to swim with the dolphins, although I hear they are quite stinky. I would like to write a best seller, but let's be real, I just started a blog and I do not even know what directions I want this to go. I would like to visit Wonders of the World, now I just need to write that book so I have the time and money to be able to travel more.

But there are some things in the book that I would NEVER want to do. 1st up, storm chase a tornado. Did the authors of this book not see Twister? People die chasing tornadoes. No thank you. I don't even like the tornado warnings at work when they make people go into the bathrooms (since there are no windows) to wait it out. It seems I always have to go to the bathroom thenR and there is absolutely no privacy!

Next up, get arrested. Are you kidding? Remember, I watched Prison Break faithfully, nothing about prison seems fun. I know Michael Scofield will not be my cell mate. There will be no lattes, no cute clothes and talk about a perpetual state of bad hair? Get real.

What about seeing an exploding volcano? Maybe if I am 50 miles away and in an airplane. Remember, I watch too many movies. I don't want to be visiting Dante's Peak and get stuck in the acid lake or get stuck at the La Brea tarpits in L.A. like in Volcano. I am on to you volcanoes and I do not want anything to do with you!

So what I realized was that this book probably wasn't the best purchase for me. It made me question the excitement in my life and it made me believe these authors have a death wish. I think creating my bucket list is a better idea. While my list is not complete (remember I still have 85 years to come up with new ideas) I do know I want to try ziplining, I have lots more places to visit around the world and I have about 20 more MLB stadiums to go!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rain Sucks

If I hear one more time "We need the rain," I am going to poke someone with my umbrella. Rain sucks. It is the destroyer of days, the harbinger of havoc, the monster of bad moods and just plain annoying in so many ways.

First, let's talk about my appearance. No matter how much goop I put in my hair, on rainy days, I never have a good hair day. Usually, I end up as a cross between Michael Jackson in his Jackson 5 afro day's and a poodle. Also, having to gear up with rain boots, a rain coat and an umbrella is something similar to suiting up to track across the Serengetti. No matter how cute the gear is, it is still a whole lot of extra stuff to put on and take off through out the day.

Then what happens to drivers when the rain starts? Rain takes seemingly normal drivers and turns them in to stark raving lunatics. A 45-minute ride home from the ballpark turned into a 3 and a 1/2 hour affair because some idiot decided to drive 20 miles over the speed limit, slam on their breaks on a slick patch of road and climb the embankment snarling traffic. I mean, this driving behavior isn't smart in good weather, what would possess someone to do this while dashing puddles, trying to see through windshield wipers that always decide to act up when it is down pouring and when other cars decide to drive 20 miles UNDER the speed limit? Really.

Rain also makes me mad when I am flying (which I do a lot). An easy 2 hour flight to Maine was turned into an 8 hour stay in the DTW airport while my house was a mere 20 minutes away. Can any one blame me for turning into a crazed lunatic when I am trying to fly 2 hours and could have been in Europe by the time I finally arrive?

Also known as the Spoiler of Summer Fun, rain really cuts into my social life. Picnics have been forced inside this year (which is just another excuse for my Guitar hero obsessed friends to break out the Wii again) and 4 baseball games were touch and go through the first couple innings. Even though the games did play, dealing the humidity, the stickiness and the wet seats did not improve my overall mood. Even a day at the pool is impacted by rain. Sitting their in my bathing suit does not preclude me from running like I am being chased from the pool at the first drops of rain.

So rain, you are kind of a pain in the a**. I sleep on average 6 - 7 hours a day and spend at least 10 - 12 days away from home each month for work, JCI or fun. At night and when I am out of town, go nuts! Otherwise, rain, rain go away, Michelle is a busy girl and can't take your delay!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Where Has All the Good TV Gone?

Last night, 5 close friends, my husband and I sat down and watched the final movie that closed out the Prison Break series, Prison Break: The Final Break. How dramatic is that title? Us avid fans waited anxiously week to week to learn the fates of Michael, Papi and Lincoln. Why do my favorite shows always get cancelled?

Besides having extremely attractive actors on the show (which definitely did not hurt), it was a show that my husband and I could sit down and watch together. It had action, suspense, love and it was just plain interesting. Michael ended up breaking himself and others out of 3 prisons - who else can say that? He was a modern day MacGyver, but much cuter and without the mullet. His one stint in the Panamanian prison, Sona, made my trip to Panama for JCI so much more exciting. Even though it was a show, I was sure that I would run into Lincoln or Gretchen as I was exploring Panama City and I could help them rescue Michael.

Prison Break is not the only show that no longer fills up my DVR and causes my husband to tell me to erase the junk that I have recorded so he can record a sporting event. This past year was a bad one for my TV watching - Pushing Daisies, Lipstick Jungle, Dirty Sexy Money and Knight Rider all left TV land. Tell me please how shows like "I Survived A Japanese Game Show" and "The Biggest Loser" survive season after season while shows with interesting plots, sex, greed and fast cars ride off into the sunset?

I warn you now TV execs, don't even think about messing with Burn Notice or In Plain Sight. I don't know if I could survive the long week of reality television. Wipeout is the exception to the bad reality TV - this is the most hilarious show I have ever seen. What makes chubby, out of shape, crazy people think that they can tackle obstacle courses that would have even put of a fight with the best athletes? These people flip, they flop, they get muddy, they get the crap knocked out of them and they say stupid things on national TV in a quest for their 15 minutes of fame. However, I can not argue that the Big Balls are good for your weekly laugh quota!

So TV Execs it is time to bring back or start some new TVs shows for me to be obsessed with. My DVR is surprisingly empty, I miss Michael, Kirby from Lipstick Jungle and the cheesiness of the whole Knight Rider show. If not, I guess there are always the past seasons on DVD.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

All that is Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray and I grew up 30 minutes apart. Our high school sports teams played one another. We were both cheerleaders. Did we meet? Not that I know of - I am much younger. Varsity cheerleaders usually did not associate themselves with junior varsity cheerleaders.

Why do I care about Rachael Ray and why should you? Because Rachael Ray is cool! Sure she can be overly perky and sometimes downright annoying (especially if I have not had my coffee), but she gets what 30 something women want. She knows that we are busy and she comes up with 30-minute meals that are easy and not boring. She travels around to different cities on her $40 a day show and finds unique restaurants. I have never been to a bad one. I have tried Manana Garage in Maui, Great Lakes Brewing Co and Tommy's in Cleveland and the Ice Box in Miami to name a few (and have schlepped my husband to all of them) and I have never been disappointed. I try to avoid chain restaurants when I am traveling and Rachael Ray makes it easy for me to do so.

She has even started a show called Rachael's Vacation where she drags her husband (and sometimes her dog) along to cool cities. I want to walk around Quebec with my husband in autumn wearing jeans and a nice jacket looking cute and being very married. Who doesn't?

I think Rachael is cool because she remembers where she came from and gives back to the community. She goes back and does a fundraiser every year for her local high school and does book signings at the local country store. I try to give back through my work with the Ann Arbor Jaycees and JCI.

Finally, how can Rachael not be cool with the fun expressions that she uses like EVOO, and yummo! What other 40 year old woman could get away with this? In a few years, I want to be that woman!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baseball Rocks!

I know the saying is Cleveland rocks (and I probably heard this phrase 20 times in the 36 hours I was in Cleveland last weekend) but baseball REALLY rocks! I am a die hard Yankee fan. I have a "I heart Yankees" necklace, a Yankees hammer, at least a half dozen assorted t-shirts and even Derek Jeter postcards. I love the YES network - I've been known to watch the baseball game, and then the encore presentation that starts 30 minutes later. My niece who was 4 at the time even knew my love for the Yankees when she asked "Auntie - are you watching the Yankees again?"

My obsession started when I was growing up in upstate New York. The summer of 1994 was poised to be the best one of my young life. I was interning at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and it is ~2 miles from the stadium. Just my luck, that was the year that major league baseball decided to go on strike and I only got to see 1 game.

Since then I have been an avid follower. I proudly wore my Yankees gear in Atlanta when the Yankees beat Atlanta in the 1996 World Series. I take countless ribbing from my husband the Oriole fan, my Ann Arbor friends the Tigers fans and any other baseball fan that feels the need to pick on the Yankees because they have been able to do what most other franchises can not - make $ and recruit top potential. I am past all that. From March - October, I live, breath and obsess over Yankee wins and losses, home runs and disabled players.

Luckily, I married another crazy baseball fan. When we retire, we have decided that we are going to get an RV and visit all the MLB parks in the country. I already have a jump on this - I love the new Yankee Stadium and the tradition, the ability to watch the boats in the bay at Giants Stadium, the fun Coke bottle at the Braves Stadium and the Ferris wheel at Tiger Stadium . I have yet to enter the stadium of my arch nemesis (the Boston Red Sox), but that day is coming. Will I wear my Yankees gear? The verdict is still out, depending on how brave I feel that day.

Since I am living in Michigan now, I now also follow the Tigers. I am getting my hat and shirt ready to head out to the stadium this Friday and Saturday. I can already smell the roasted peanuts and the hot dogs. Want to come with me?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In Search of the Perfect Latte

Every who knows me, knows I love Starbuck's! I seek out Starbuck's as I travel around the world. Opinions of countries can be altered if there is not one. I mean Malta is a beautiful country and I have lots of friends there, but really, would it hurt them to put a couple Starbuck's on the island to make my time there a little bit better? I was recently in Geneva, Switzerland speaking with my friend from Turkey and he pointed out that there was no Starbuck's near our hotel. He had already scoped it out for me. I had to take a bus to the train station to get one for God sakes!

I like lattes so much that when I was browsing Amazon for a new set of mystery books to start reading that I was so excited to come across Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Mysteries. I immediately forced my husband to Borders to buy all 7 of these delicious books - On What Grounds, Through the Grinder, Latte Trouble, Murder Most Frothy, Decaffeinated Corpse, French Pressed and Espresso Shot - even the names made me want to go to Starbuck's!

One day, I was walking around Ann Arbor and I saw a new coffee shop, Mighty Good Coffee Roasting Company. In a hurry, I decided to try this coffee shop instead of walking the two blocks to the Starbuck's. I ordered a latte and the first thing I noticed was the care the barista took in preparing my latte, even forming the milk foam into a heart (like I had just read in my coffeehouse mystery books)! I took my first sip and it was like I had never tasted a latte before, the taste was awesome!

I still go to Starbuck's, but not the one near the Mighty Good Coffee Roasting Company, and the next time I am in Malta, I will look for the locals coffee shop and enjoy myself not wanting a Starbucks!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My 1st Blog

Well, I just went to the theater and saw "Julie and Julia." I liked this movie but I didn't. I liked it because I thought it was cool that Julie decided on a goal and worked toward which took her on a whole new path in her life. It bothered me because it made me realize that I wanted something like what Julie had to have a purpose and a passion in my life. As I pondered this with my husband, we had drinks with some friends of a friend this past weekend in Cleveland. She just quit her job and made her blog, All Lacquered Up, her full time job. As I sat there in awe, I decided I wanted to start my own endeavor. What is it? I am not sure yet. I just know that I have something to say and now is the time to start saying it.