Monday, December 31, 2007

Doobie doobie doo

This weekend has been totally full of responsible and productive behavior. I'm not even kidding!

I have been studying my butt off for the professional exam I'm scheduled to take on January 19th. Admittedly, my focus and motivation have fluctuated over the weekend, but regardless, I have spent an admirable amount of time sitting in random coffee shops with pen and highlighter in hand. Not only that, but I've pretty much managed to teach myself all of the compensation topics that are fair game for the exam. Considering that Compensation was one of the classes that I decided I didn't really need to take in grad school (something else was more important...Wines, perhaps), I think that's something of an accomplishment.

All studying and no play makes H a dull girl though, so I have squeezed in a little fun here and there. On Saturday, I finally made it to Clarendon Ballroom to see Mr. Greengenes. Despite my complete lack of musical knowledge and/or talent, I reeeally love singing along to songs I know. Therefore, bands that cover music of my era make me so happy, cause I can sing along, secure in the knowledge that I'm not really disturbing anyone else's peace (unlike when I get a similar urge in my own car, despite the presence of passengers :-p).

Plans for tonight are still a little up in the air, but emails are flying around to bring the discussion to resolution. I have a number of outfits laid out on my bed at the moment, so I'm prepared for whatever the final outcome may be ;-) Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy celebration tonight, and all the very best in 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Christmas to All!

Christmas greetings are a little belated...but heartfelt nonetheless. I'm back from family Christmas and ready to catch up on the goings on of recent weeks.

My lovely doctor was able to see me last week before I flew home. He confirmed my self-diagnosis of sinus infection but was able to give me some good medicine to help. The infection did indeed make flying slightly unpleasant, and I'm sure the other passengers sharing my air were not pleased with my sniffling, but after about a week on antibios, I'm pretty much recovered. No four month mystery illness this winter!

So, speaking of the flight home, when I was buying my ticket, I had to make the decision between flying to Daytona Beach or Orlando. The little airport in Daytona is about 15 minutes from the door of my dad's house, but as you might expect, with its 10 gates and 20 flights a day, it's pretty pricey to fly to, especially at the holidays. I just couldn't justify doubling the cost of ticket for convenience, so I flew Airtran from DCA to Orlando for Christmas instead. Now, everytime I fly Airtran, I always end up making the statement (usually shared aloud to a neighboring passenger also waiting to reclaim their baggage) that I will never fly Airtran again. So help me. I'm making this threat public here, and I am asking for your help in reminding me that there is NO reason that I should be bullied by AirTran baggage couriers for tips (Note: I tip willingly, but these people start harassing you about it before they've even done their job) or consistently have to wait for over 30 minutes for my bags to make it from my airplane to the baggage carousel (seriously!). So that's it. No more Airtran. XM radio just isn't soothing enough to make them worth it.

Um, so where was I? Oh right, flying home for Christmas.

Home was actually relatively uneventful this year. There have been some big changes with my family over the last few years, but this year there are no more secrets to be kept from one another, everything is out in the open. That doesn't necessarily mean that there's no more drama, but at least it's drama you can deal with head on. Makes for much less tension and, quick recap on the fam:

  • I talked to M while I was home, but I didn't actually see her. I guess her work schedule was pretty busy, and quite frankly, our telephone conversation went the way that most of them have over the last 2.5 years. Kinda frustrating, and didn't really put me in the mood for girly-chat over coffee.
  • My lil brother (who is now 21...craaaaazy) seems pretty mad at me these days. He put his frustration aside for the actual holiday, but we had a few tense moments over the week. I have some pretty strong opinions on some life choices that he's been making recently...and me being me, you better believe that I share them with him (intervention style, if necessary). So anyway, he seems to just seethe with anger these days, but I keep telling myself that it's important that he hears what I have to say, because quite frankly, there aren't many other people in his life that are willing to call him out on these things.
  • Big T and I had plenty of bonding moments. He's become somewhat of a cyclist, so we did several rides over the week. I'm a little concerned about the number of Lifetime movies he's watching, but other than that, he's doing well.
  • Most excitingly, my sister and her long-time boyfriend got engaged over Christmas! No word yet on timing of the nuptials :-)

I pretty much cooked the whole Christmas dinner this year. We had Caesar salad, lovely roasted vegetables with rosemary, a standing rib roast served with horseradish sauce, and raspberry shortcakes for dessert. Everything turned out really well, with the exception of the Caesar dressing, but thankfully that was served first, and I think everyone had pretty much forgotten it by the time we got to the end of the meal :-)

I had a pretty late flight out of Orlando on the 26th, which gave me most of the day at my dad's house to finish off packing, tidy up a bit, and swing by Ritter's for custard on my way out of town. For some reason, I was craving it all week, and I haven't seen one in ages. Mmm...Grizzly Cub. Anyway, aforementioned luggage issues meant that I didn't actually make it back to the condo until around 1am on the 27th, and I had left our place in such a state before I left that I actually then stayed up for several hours to clean. I didn't have much of a choice, I couldn't see the floor or my bed when I walked in.

ROE is home in Maryland for the holidays, and he came to visit yesterday, so I played hooky from work. We had a perfectly relaxing day - worked out in the morning, went to lunch, treated ourselves to mani/pedis in the afternoon (since I'm not working onsite for another week or so, I'm sporting awesome OPI Russian Navy nailcolor), and took a trip to Matchbox for dinner (so yummy!). It's always fun to really spend time with your long-distance friends...I love the opportunities for conversations that go beyond the typical catch up on our daily lives.

Today I'm back at work. I absolutely have to spend the rest of the weekend studying for my upcoming SPHR exam, so there is not likely to be any more exciting news out of me until the new year :p

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Still here

Ha. It's been a while since I've checked in here. Have I become a blogging slacker already? Probably.

So, another week has gone by, and I do feel like there is much to update on.

1.) Christmas shopping is almost done. Yay! I'm down to my last few family members and friends who seem to be difficult to shop for this year. No worries though, I will persevere. I bought a Real Simple magazine at the checkout the other day, and I'm convinced it holds all the answers to the questions I'm currently "What does best friend need so much that she will be willing to pack it up and move it to New Orleans in a few months?" or "What educational and inspirational gift does a 21-year old boy secretly want, when all he's asked for is Guitar Hero, but I'm morally opposed to buying my siblings video games?" These are not easy questions, and as you can see, I may bring some of the challenges on myself, but inspiration is just around the corner. I can feel it.

2.) The jackass trend continued in a serious way this week. I packed hastily on Monday morning, due to an alarm clock that never rang on my cell phone. (I've seriously been carrying the manual to the new phone with me everywhere for the last two weeks but have yet to open it to figure out what all the buttons mean.) Anyway, all was well on Monday, safe travels and all that jazz. Tuesday morning caused me a little panic though, when I opened up the suitcase only to realize I brought no shirts with me. No shirts! I had pants, and jackets, and socks, and shoes, and exercise clothes, and pretty much everything else that I ever bring with me. And ix-nay in the shirt department. So off on another personal shopping errand on Tuesday night. Of course, when I returned home on Thursday, there were all my shirts, laid out on the bed, waiting for me to reach out and toss them in the suitcase, with all their other business professional clothing friends. Whoops.

3.) Work travel is actually pretty much over for me for 2007. I have to do a quick day in-day out trip to Jers this week, but that's about it. My Christmas vacation is starting on Wednesday, December 19th, so this is going to be a short week anyway :-) I will be spending the holidays in Florida with the fam, but I'm headed back to DC on the 26th. I really enjoy the build-up to Christmas, but post dinner and present-opening, I'm pretty much ready to hop a plane back home, so that's the plan.

4.) In sad news, I think the horrible sinus infections of last winter are trying to make a come back. Cross your fingers that I get a doctor's appointment this week. Pleeeeease.

5.) Last but not least, a public service announcement. No one should do this. Honestly. Just give some damn money to the kids...don't plague us with more mustaches in the world.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I'm too inefficient to name this blog

Another Jerseyfied week has passed. It has been an adjustment spending 4-5 days a week out of town, mostly because it means that I have to be more organized and efficient about getting things know the bill-paying, laundry-washing minutiae of life. Well, I guess the bill paying part isn't exactly trifling, and unfortunately I'm remembering that organized and efficient really aren't my style. In one of my first attempts at efficiency a two weekends ago, I managed to take my Big Love DVDs rented from Blockbuster and return them to the local library. Took a while to figure out my mistake, so I spent half of this afternoon trying to figure out how to get them back. Sigh. It ain't easy being me.

This morning I went to the Purcellville Christmas Celebration with some friends. P'ville is a totally precious town in western Loudon County, and they had quite the production going on today. We enjoyed the sounds of the Chorus of the Old Dominion (especially the one grandpa looking gentleman who was totally badass in his aviators while it was completely overcast) and watching the Christmas parade. Santa and Mrs. Claus were walking down the street at the end of the parade, and the little kiddos along the street were running out into the road to hug his leg and shake his hand. So cute. Unfortunately, we missed our friend and his son who were actually in the parade, but we caught up with them later - they were sporting an elf hat (complete with ears) and a Santa hat respectively. Though I felt a little unadorned, it was a great day for getting in the holiday spirit :-)

Anyway, now that I've caught up on the Hills for the week (I'm sooooo glad that skanky JasonBobby is out of the picture - thank you, Audrina!), it's time to hop in the shower and meet the girls for cocktails. Whee.

I won, I won!

FYI, the Oprah/Dr. Phil shot below was found to be prize-worthy by Roadside America.

Disclaimer: Prizes were supposedly awarded to 35 "random" submissions...but considering that my friend (and fellow road-warrior), ROE, won also, I'm guessing that there were probably more prizes than entries. No matter though...all I wanted was the glory ;-)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A day of value

Today was a good day. A really good day. I received an unexpected call on Wednesday night asking me to travel to Cullowhee, NC this weekend to facilitate at a Something of Value program at Western Carolina University. The program does a really phenomenal job of promoting discussion among collegiate sorority women about the gravity of the 'risky behaviors' prevalent on their campus, so of course I accepted the offer.

One of the components of the program is a mock trial, in which some of the participants role play as witnesses in the trial. They are on stage in front of the rest of the group, being questioned in relation to a fictional scenario in which a chapter member has suffered harm. The program is structured to use terms and locations that are familiar to the campus, to make it feel even more real. Just watching the body language of those on stage, it was clear that it was stressful for them to act out the role of defendants in a civil suit, and it was even stressful for those in the audience because they related to the scenario as well. It was also absolutely eye-opening for many of them to hear about how damages can be awarded, and it positioned them for some great small group action planning this afternoon about strategies to address these behaviors. I had a great group of women in my small group - a combination of outgoing and incoming chapter presidents - and they were just as jaded and idealistic as you might imagine ;-)

At the end of the day today, one of the women who was in my small group this afternoon, and who took me to dinner after the program, said, "Thank you so much for coming. I learned more from you today than I have learned from other national volunteers in a week." Now that's the kind of comment that makes you glad to have given up your weekend to help your collegiate sisters make better decisions :-)

So anyway, now I sit here in my Hendersonville, NC hotel room, basking in the glow of my risk management coaching and hoping to get to sleep early, because my flight home is at 6:30am. Oh, and I'm also watching the Republican debate from a few nights ago and thinking:
1.) Anderson Cooper is so dreamy. And he asks hard-hitting questions like "Senator Thompson, what's up with that?" Ha.
2.) I advocate greater use of the word "obfuscating."
3.) I hate it when people waste their airtime bashing others, versus making statements about what they believe.
4.) Did half of these YouTube videos came from Texas?

Last but not least, thanks to everyone who commented on the pictures from the last post! Looks like Merlin is in the lead, but I have until the 6th to submit, so if you have a comment, let me know.