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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Anchovy Peanut Butter

“I knew, when I looked at the weather on Tuesday, that you wouldn’t make it home on Friday,” said Christopher.

While I was super glad to be home and see Christopher, I couldn’t help looking at him like he had a third eye. “I knew ONE YEAR AGO THIS WEEK, when Chauncey said, ‘We’ll do Sales Kickoff in Chicago next year,’ that I wouldn’t make it home on Friday,” I said.

Let’s fly 200 people into Chicago. In January. What could possibly go wrong there?

We had our annual Sales Kickoff this past week. It has always been in Winston Salem (home of chilly, but mild winters) but with the change of our company headquarters to Chicago, the executive team decided to have the meeting in Chicago. (See above paragraph.)

We got in on Monday and it was rainy and nasty. We went to get lunch and walked around a bit to see Marilyn. This is when I ruined my favorite pair of shoes. It was completely my fault. I only have so many cute shoes and approximately .5 pair of them is cold/wet weather appropriate (that’s not .5%, that’s one pair that is vaguely appropriate, but not really). Between the salt, the dirty rain, the snow, the pigeon shit and the homeless people urine we had to walk through (no, I’m not being melodramatic about a big city; we took a wrong turn and literally had to walk through a ton of pigeon poo and rivers of pee from the homeless people we passed on the way), my favorite pair of shoes – a super cute pair of ballet flats - were ruined.

(marilyn - her feet were filthy, much like mine)

We went out for a company dinner on Monday and I had pizza and a couple glasses of wine with some of my favorite people.

We were in meetings all day on Tuesday and then went out for another company dinner – Big Bowl.

We were in meetings all day on Wednesday and then a group of us went to dinner at RL Restaurant. It was pretty fantastic. I loved the atmosphere – neat artwork completely covering the walls and BOOKS where there was no artwork! Nice fireplaces and great food. We split some escargot and I got a salad with salmon and some dauphinoise potatoes…and wine. Everything was fantastic and I will definitely go back. After dinner we went to the Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock building for some drinks.

On Thursday I saw the news in the morning. Including the weather. Not looking so great for Friday’s flight, but remember – I knew this was going to happen one. year. ago. We were in training all day and we had planned to go ice-skating after our training. At the end of the training, there was lots of talk of snow and changing flights. With the weather advisory in place, United wasn’t charging fees to switch your flight. It sounded like a pretty good idea. I had my girl Eva’s first birthday on Saturday and didn’t want to miss that…and I really didn’t want to get stuck in Chicago over the weekend. Chicago is nice (during months April through September), but visiting Chicago for a weekend and getting stuck there for a weekend are two completely different things. Getting stuck in Turks & Caicos would suck. I went ahead and moved my flight up. I took the earliest flight that would still let me attend the majority of the meetings on Friday.

After our training, Ouida and I decided, last minute, to tag along with Ross and John over to Wrigley Stadium. We met in the lobby and while we were waiting for Ouida my phone rang. It was Christopher.

“Don’t get too freaked out, I don’t know the extent of it yet, but our house was broken in to.”

“What did they take??? NO! WHEREARETHEANIMALS???”

Christopher had Leroy. He had Buster. He couldn’t find Tuesday.

Christopher said he couldn’t tell, at first glance, what they had taken – he was waiting for the sheriff to arrive. I talked to him for about five minutes, mostly explaining the importance of finding Tuesday, before the sheriff got there and he had to go. I was pretty much freaking out and it was the only thing I could think about all night. I was thinking about Tuesday, what they might have done to Buster and Leroy and all the stuff that was in our house that they could have taken. It was OVER TWO HOURS before Christopher got back to me. They still hadn’t found Tuesday anywhere. For some reason, with all the awesome-ass shit we have in our house they only took a few things (that we can tell so far). But they went through absolutely everything. Everything. Drawers were hanging open and dumped out on our bed, things were moved, lights were on, TVs were on…but still there. Weird, right? If Christopher or I had even the most slightly of important jobs (like CIA spies), I would think they were looking for a top-secret flash drive.

By this time in Chicago, we had frozen our extremities off at Wrigley and been ice-skating (I didn’t actually skate – it was too cold and I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on staying vertical). We went to eat at Harry Caray’s Steakhouse.

Back home Christopher, two sets of neighbors, Christopher’s parents, Christopher’s sister and brother-in-law and three police officers were searching everywhere imaginable for Tuesday. We have some pretty awesome neighbors. And I’m pleasantly surprised that the officers also looked.

I checked my phone in the middle of dinner and I had a voicemail from Christopher and a text from my dad saying that they found Miss. Tuesday! Phew! She had been in the house somewhere. Christopher said they looked absolutely everywhere and he can’t imagine where she was hiding, but she must have been pretty scared because she wouldn’t even come out for food (this cat lives for food). One minute she couldn't be found and the next (rather five+ hours later), Kathy saw her creeping across the living room.

I HATE that these ass holes were in our house and touched everything that we own. I HATE it. I HATE even more that they scared the shit out our animals. They are still on edge. When I came home I opened a package that came in the mail. Buster and Tuesday were in the kitchen and the sound of the tape pulling away from the box sent them running. When someone comes in the house now, Tuesday hides. Buster seems the least phased. I can’t help but think that he probably rubbed against their legs a couple times and then bitch slapped them, mid-thigh and ran.

Friday came and I was SO ready to get home! Thank God I switched my flight! We went to our meeting and slipped out a little early. The roads were getting a bit icky but we made it to the airport in amazing time! I realized that I really hate United Airlines. A lot. (I might actually write a separate blog post about them.) Five of the six of us got checked in. Lindsey and John went through our travel agency to rebook their flights (you will see as we get further into this story that that was their first mistake). For some reason, the person that rebooked their flights gave them some sort of weird joint/shared ticket…as in they shared a ticket and whoever checked in first got it. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. It sounds like some crap off of Amazing Race – whoever gets there firsts, gets the ticket. John checked in first. Lindsey was shit out of luck. More calls to the travel agency finally got her a ticket but she barely made it to the gate. We were all sitting on the plane, watching the door, waiting for her to board before they shut the door, but it never happened. Instead the pilot got on the intercom and announced that the weather had deteriorated quickly and we were not going to be able to take off until conditions improve. We got off the plane. We waited. Nothing. We went to Chilis and got drinks and lunch. Ouida even got a drink. Then our phones start blowing up. They were reboarding. Ouida got our bill paid in record time and we flew down the terminal and on the plane. The pilot tells us that they are going to de-ice the plane and then we will have to take off within five to ten minutes after the de-icing. Are you kidding me? In what scenario could that ever work? Then the flight attendant comes on to clarify: this doesn’t mean that we are actually leaving. This might not work. Oh? You don’t say? The pilot comes on again and says the de-icing isn’t working and they are waiting to hear from World-something-or-another to determine other methods. He then says, “I would be lying to you if I told you I knew what that means, so….” Yeah.

Then guess what happens? They cancel our flight. While we’re on the plane, I am on the phone trying to get in touch with United to rebook. I get a text from Lindsey that says we have hotel rooms at the Westin for the night (our travel agent booked them). Score. Then Lindsey comes down the aisle saying that our travel agency is rebooking our flights and we don’t have to worry about it. We got off the plane…without luggage. I’m sure you have heard that United breaks guitars, but they also kidnap luggage. They wouldn’t give us our luggage back. We are stuck in Chicago with no luggage. No toothpaste. No pajamas. No contact solution. No clean underwear. No medicine. No deodorant. Nothing. I have my computer bag and my purse. My house was just broken into - all I want to do is go home.

Again, flying 200 people to Chicago in January. Ouida likened it to Anchovy Peanut Butter. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

We still hadn’t heard about our flights and start to get a little nervous so Lindsey starts to call the agency. Lindsey was pretty awesome making phone calls and figuring all this stuff out. Too bad the people she was talking to weren't as awesome. They tell us that the first available flight is 8:00pm the next night. No, that will not work. They give us a 1:00pm flight to Charlotte and a rental car.

We find the hotel shuttles and head to the Westin. I am the first to get up the counter. I tell them we have a block of 10 rooms booked. Name, Parsons. The girl at the desk tells me that we don’t arrive until tomorrow. “But we have arrived today. See? I’m standing right in front of you.” And guess what else? They are completely sold out! Of course they are. Lindsey calls the travel agency, but that doesn't result in much.

I found and booked another hotel and went there, checked in and hit up the little store at the hotel. I’m sure you will not be surprised to hear that a 3 ounce bottle of contact solution was $11.99. It doesn’t matter though – SRt will be picking that up for me.

There were a couple nice restaurants at the hotel so we picked one and got some dinner. There was a lovely gentleman at the table next to us that bought us our first round of drinks. (He may or may not have heard Ouida scoff at him for getting in the middle of our group at the hotel.) We ate and then went back to our rooms. I went to bed at about midnight, but then my phone rang at 3am. It was Ouida. For some reason John was up and checking flights and he saw that the 9am flight to Greensboro was half-open. Odd how our travel agency missed that one, right? We all switched our flights, with the exception of Ross. By the time he got through, they said it was booked. We all went to the airport at 5:30 am to get Ross on standby. We got there and he actually got a ticket. And then we waited. And then waited some more. 9am came and went. The planes spent the night in the hanger and they were working to get them out. Whateves. Someone didn't start early enough.

We finally took off around noon. About an hour into the fight, we hit the most violent turbulence I had felt since our trip to New York last year. In fact, while it lasted nowhere near as long as the NY flight, I think it may have been a bit more violent.

We finally arrived in Greensboro, with three hours of sleep, wearing dirty clothes and dirty underwear. Surprisingly our luggage was there waiting on us. When we landed we had an email from our CEO with the following quote: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning how to dance in the rain.” Ah-hem. Not appreciated.

I have never been so glad to be home, but I couldn’t relax until I was actually in my house. I couldn’t help but expect that we were going to get in a car wreck on the way home (it probably would have been scheduled by our travel agency). It was that kind of trip.

During this whole ordeal, not once did my boss call or email to check on us – see if we were making it out okay (WE WERE NOT, thank you very much).

Good things about this trip:

  • I made new friends!
  • I got to spend some quality time with people I don’t hang out with enough.
  • I was reminded what awesome neighbors we have.
  • Getting HOME, seeing my Boo and snuggling with my maminals.

Regrets for the trip:

  • I regret that the hotel store didn’t sell underwear. I would have loved to turn in an expense report to my boss for “panties" (and also, I would have loved to have had clean underwear).
  • I regret that we relied on our travel agency to help us. That was stupid. We should have known better.
  • I regret that I didn’t buy better, weather appropriate shoes before I took this trip.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Turks & Caicos

This post is long overdue. Christopher and I went to Turks and Caicos for our anniversary this past October/November. It was an awesome trip when we went for our honeymoon three years ago and it was an awesome trip again! We're hoping not to wait another three years before we go again.

We actually didn't take near enough pictures this time. When I went through the pictures on our camera, there wasn't one of a lizard. I bet I took 100 lizard pictures last time. Luckily Christopher got a few good lizard pics on his iPad.

(view from our hotel balcony - the trees were full of these...)

(pretty birds!)

(this is a frog statue that was outside our building - someone had placed all these red nuts/berries in the frogs arms - it was really cute)

(we went to one of our favorite restaurants, coco bistro, on our anniversary)

(new animal for this trip - snails! aren't they cute!)

(also new on this trip - a frog!)

(this trip, we took a ferry over to middle caicos)

(this was "flamingo pond," where you can see flamingos by the hundreds...does anyone see a problem with this picture??? we never saw one the whole trip.)

(middle caicos - beautiful. you can't tell it from this picture, but there's a naked lady over on those rocks. actually, i take that back - she had a top on but no botoms.)

(more middle caicos)

This was a good deal of our trip to Middle Caicos and back. We actually docked at North Caicos and then drove to Middle Caicos. After we drove for what seemed like forever, we ran out of legitimate road. And then the road picked up again. And then it went away. And then it came back. And then it went away. I think you see where I am going with this.

(the aforementioned no road, road, no road...)

(this is actually the "big, new causeway." right.)

Oh! And, haha, let's not forget this! When we docked in North Caicos, our hotel had arranged for us to have a rental car waiting. There was a beautiful black Range Rover there. I knew it wasn't ours, but I told Christopher I was pretty sure that was our car and that I couldn't wait to drive it. Then I saw this car and said, "Oh, no...that better not be our car..." It totally was.

(a nissan sunny!)

(this is a huge, half-completed resort that was abandoned. guess they ran out of money. kind of sad. a lot of middle caicos was like a ghost town.)

We were pretty hungry when we got back to Provo (there was no safe-looking food on Middle Caicos), so we found this neat restaurant called Somewere. It's was a Tex-Mex kind of place. We had the best seat in the house. Their menu...a huge chalk board that they just sit up against your table. It was pretty cool.

(i want to make one of these. this one was $275, but i feel certain i can make one for a fraction of the cost. it's a toucan plant holder made out of an old tire!)

Last but not least - pretty macaws: