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!