Tuesday, November 28, 2006

country come to town

That's something we sometimes use in reference to my brother (who finally "came to town" about a year and a half ago after living in the country his whole life). Today, however, it refers to me. I should be asleep since I have breakfast at 7am and it's midnight here. Where is here? The Ritz-Carlton. South Beach.

I grew up poor and in the country (which, incidentally, I think is better than poor and in the city). We didn't take vacations. We didn't travel further than Houston or Corpus. I didn't leave Texas until I was 17. Didn't fly until I was 20. Now I have a life where keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground for more than a week seems like an eternity. A life where I say things like "it's been so long since I've been to Miami--7 months!" A life where people valet park my rental car. Where people offer to help with my luggage. Where, when I'm out to dinner, someone comes and leaves me tiny chocolates on my bed along with tomorrow's weather forecast in quaint, Texan terms (like "gullywasher"). Where a woman brings me room service and adjusts my television so I can still watch it while eating. A woman who--when I say not to bother with the tv (I have two goods hands and legs that work)--says, "I know. You don't want to be a bother. But you deserve it."

Even though it's only Tuesday, it's been a really interesting week. If you're in Ft. Worth I highly recommend the Renaissance. Superb beds. Honestly, I could wax on and on about them. And even though it's a chain it's done really well. Feels like Texas. Which was super cool since I was entertaining one of our clients who happens to be from the UK. I took him to the stockyards for steak last night. I was the one who was highly entertained. Actually, he enjoyed it, too.

We both came out to Miami today. I very easily sweet talked my way into a room with an ocean view instead of a city view. (Moral: never take what you're given?) And I've been in a very talkative mood the last few days, chatting it up with strangers even more than usual. (That's especially good since I'd slipped into kind of an introverted phase.) It's funny how I don't get anxiety when dealing with new people. It comes with the territory, I guess. Instead of feeling anxious at meeting this guy who is high up in his company, a company that has paid our company millions of dollars to complete this project, I was just excited to be able to show a British guy around Ft. Worth. And then tonight I was able to meet several of my co-workers I had previously known only via e-mail or conference calls or spreadsheets. And what was cool (I know, I've said "cool" twice this post) was that many of them from various levels of the hierarchy said, "Oh! You're (insert my first name here)!" My reputation precedes me... How did that happen? I'm home-based. I'm not really sure but am glad that it did. Like I said, an interesting week thus far. Oh, and one more thing before I'm off to bed. In a similar fashion to how I dissolve into a little Texan drawl when I'm around people with a heavy accent, I apparently use a spot o' the Queen's English when around the British. Cheerio, ol' chaps...

Monday, November 27, 2006

crying with oprah

The days go by so quickly, don't they? The days off? Even faster. I had a rushed trip to Dallas last Monday/Tuesday so that allowed me to only need to work a few hours on Wednesday. However, I had to fly back to Dallas yesterday. I stay here until tomorrow and then am off to Miami for some training. Then back home around midnight on Thursday. Thank goodness November will be over. It's been a rough month.

Random quote for today. No need to seek hidden meaning or link it to any other part of this. It's just the Real Simple daily quote. And a good one at that. "I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one." -Mark Twain

Ok, so I got finished with work a little early today and caught about half of Oprah. It was the second half of her Pay It Forward show. Yeah, it was a sob fest. In a good way. She gave each member of her audience a $1000 gift card sometime in October. They were to use it however they wanted to but she asked that they pay it forward. 314 people did. (I'm not sure how many people were in her audience originally--the site just says over 300). But, wow, how cool that so many people actually did it! It was crazy. They helped sick people, kids, people who were down on their luck, and some plain ol' random people. Pizza delivery guys were given $250 tips. A grandmother in a grocery store was randomly given $250. Turns out she was keeping her daughter's kids because her daughter had been in an accident the night before and was in ICU. Some people pooled their money to make a bigger impact like buying a working single mom a car. Some used it as a starting point and got other donations from area businesses and the impact was huge. We're talking $200,000 huge.

It was amazing. I think Oprah should do that maybe once a week. She could afford to lose $300,000+ a week. Ok, so maybe $500 once a month. Something. It makes me want to get out there and help. When you major in a "helping profession" in college, you tend to value the actual "helping" part. That's something I don't think I've been doing enough of lately. I've volunteered time in the past but lately it seems like I give money instead of time. Don't get me wrong, I think every fortunate person has a responsibility to help others. I'm not talking about giving money to someone who will waste it on booze, etc. But I think everyone could think of at least one cause they could support. Why not act on it? It seems like people rarely have an excess of both time and money but you usually have a little extra of one of them. Why not use it? We have so many material possessions. Why not donate to charities for Christmas gifts this year? Would you mind if that were your gift?

So that's my soapbox for today. Pay it forward... It makes at least two people happy when you do. Three if you count Oprah. Four if you count me...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

under the wire

Just thought it would be a tad hypocritical of me to wax on about Thanksgiving and not acknowledge the actual day. However, I was spending it with friends and family and friends who are like family instead of blogging so maybe I'm not hypocritical afterall. I leave you with a quote...

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude." -E.P Powell

Monday, November 20, 2006

some little things

Brisk weather. Live music. Naps. Warm beds. Safe travel. Downtown skyscrapers glowing pink in the sunrise. Coffee. Vending machines. A glass of wine. A good meal. An entertaining book.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

not so fast

It's November 19. Last Sunday, the 12th, was the first time this year that I heard Christmas music in a public place. I heard it again on Wednesday and saw someone putting up yard decorations yesterday. This makes me crazy.

I do enjoy the holiday season for the most part. (It's kind of a mixed bag for me.) But why do we have to rush towards it? Why can't we just enjoy Thanksgiving? You know, the holiday that comes between Halloween and Christmas. The one where we're supposed to show gratitude. Gratitude, perhaps, for all the material things society is been pressuring us to buy for Christmas.

Part of my annoyance regarding the extended holiday season is because I like Thanksgiving. It gets overshadowed since it isn't as profitable a holiday. No myriad of gifts to buy. No costumes and tubs of candy. It only requires food. And family and friends. But if you go into craft-type stores like Garden Ridge or Hobby Lobby, you may be able to find generic Fall decorations for about 3 days (less in Garden Ridge). You don't really hear of Thanksgiving sales...only the day after Thanksgiving. The "thank God that holiday is over so we can really focus on Christmas" sales.

So I've been thinking about how the holidays fall. I thought that maybe we should move Thanksgiving. But that's not a good solution either. Thanksgiving has to be in the fall. We celebrate life's bountiful harvest during the time of bountiful harvest. I like the traditional Thanksgiving foods. It would be weird to eat all those carbs and pies during the summer (although I enjoy carbs and pie year-round). We can't move Christmas. So I'm thinking maybe it could be Halloween. What if we made it at the beginning of October? And while we're at it, make it fall on the first Saturday of the month. Parents wouldn't have to feel so rushed getting the kids ready for trick-or-treating after a long workday. Childless adults could always have a fun night to go out and party since it seems weird to dress in costume and hit the bar on, say, a Tuesday. I know Halloween has historical reasons as to why it is when it is...but does that history matter anymore? For any holidays really... But in all likelihood, moving Halloween up would just extend the Christmas season even further.

Aside from Thanksgiving getting overshadowed, I dislike the Christmas push because it stresses me out. Time goes by so quickly as it is, why try to make it go even faster? Businesses shouldn't try to make people feel inadequate if they haven't finished their shopping by mid-November. Personally, that just makes me want to buy a handful of giftcards and call it a day. But then I'd feel guilt. I enjoy finding that perfect gift for someone who means a lot to me. So I'm sitting here trying not to feel rushed and overwhelmed. Hopefully that will be successful. And if not, I may be the first person to wish you a happy Halloween next year. I hope the costume on October 6th doesn't alarm you.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

why "i travel for work" sounds better than it is

1. You sometimes are ill-prepared for weather. You try to be prepared. You look, say, Sunday night while you are packing to see what the forecast is for the week ahead. It says the lowest high is 68. Not bad. You take a light jacket. The lowest high ends up being about 25 degrees colder than that with a wind chill in the teens/low twenties. You wake up in the morning and it is below freezing. There is ice on your windshield. You wish you had gloves.

2. You forget (Honestly! See #3 for reason why...) to remove small make-up bag from purse. You usually put it in the checked luggage, you really do. You know lip gloss and liquid foundation are contraband. You know someone somewhere knows how to combine those two items (or identical looking items) with some spit and maybe a paper clip to do some real damage on a plane. You ignore your oversight and hope security is lax. It isn't. You can't send these two small items through security on their own without being safely secured in a tiny, resealable plastic bag. You wonder how tiny, resealable plastic bag keeps aforementioned "someone somewhere" from doing aforementioned "real damage." You throw items away. Sigh...

3. You sometimes cannot find a gas station near the airport. Rental car places charge you about $9 million, your right pinkie toe, and your first born child if you return the car less than full. You think your credit card limit is less than $9 million, you kinda like your toes where they are, and you'd like to keep your first child if, God willing, you actually find someone who is interested in knocking you up. You turn back around, now going away from the airport, in search of fuel. You finally find a gas station. You get out to pay at the pump. Slide your card. It asks for your zip code. NONE of the number buttons work. You can't even enter a wrong zip code. You think your quest for gas may actually cause you to miss your flight. You become frustrated. You are tired of being cold, clad in your inadequate, thin jacket. Why won't the buttons work?!?! You can't even cancel the transaction to pay inside. You ponder switching pumps about the time another car drives up next to yours. A seemingly able-bodied, 30-something, kinda dirty man gets out and says, "When you finish punching in those numbers, will you help me open my gas tank?" Huh? In a frustrated but not rude manner you reply that you may never finish punching the buttons as they are not working. Even though you are a relatively kind, helpful person you do not want to help this guy because it seems fishy. Your momma didn't raise no fool. You continue to try to get any button to work, even the last-resort clerk button. Meanwhile, strange guy asks guy on other side to help with gas tank. Guy on other side does not speak English as his first language and makes no attempt to help. Super freakin' lunatic guy then starts his rant. Ranting about Jesus and Satan and how the world is and how it should be and how you're a whore and are basically going to Hell yada yada. You do not turn around to face him. You do not ask him why many crazy people bring up Jesus. You do not ask how he deduced that you were a Hell-bound whore. You politely say "thank you," all the while frantically pushing buttons. Lunatic finishes up rant, gets in car, and peels off. You and other normal guy exchange words and feel a little relieved that you were not shot or stabbed or punched or rammed with a beat-up car.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

crafts, ben, art, and weather

Let's get the obligatory house update out of the way. The inspector came on Friday. Nothing major. There were two things we requested the owners fix and they said ok. The termite guy came today and no little pests living in the wood. He recommended preventative treatment (who wouldn't?) and also said he could collect the numerous feral outdoor cats living at the house. (Can you have indoor feral cats? That would really be scary.) So the next step is the appraisal. I hope it appraises for a little less and that the owner has to go down on the price. Our (meaning my agent and me) requests thus far have been called "reasonable" so hopefully they just want to get out of the house whatever the cost.

The weekend was good. Got to visit two (count 'em, two) scrapbooking stores. Now, I'm not a huge fan of scrapbooking. I've made one in my life. I do love making cards and that lets me make use of the fun scrapbooking stuff. Well, at one of the stores I found a new technique to use. Fun! Now I just need to finalize the design for this year's Christmas card...

Then on Sunday my brother, his girlfriend, and I went to check out good ol' Ben. It was a really good exhibit. I had only been to HMNS a few times before this year. I've gone four times in the last few months. It's a cool place. When we were driving by MFAH I realized that it had been quite some time since I had been there. I was jonesin' for some fine arts.

So, yeah, a good weekend. On Monday I flew to OKC and don't come home until Thursday. This was a new site to visit and it was just ok. They were nice enough to buy lunch yesterday, though. That's always a plus. And it makes me feel like it's ok to spend more on dinner what with getting the same amount of per diem regardless of what I spend throughout the day. So I had a nice dinner with wine and pie. The pie...not so good. How sad... I got bumped up to a nicer room at the hotel. King Spa Suite. Sweet indeed. Whirlpool tub. I whirled in the pool. Super relaxing evening. I did no work. Oh, but I did help a guy win a bet at the hotel bar.

Today I got finished with work early, bought a sweater (there is a possibility of snow flurries in the early morning--in Oklahoma), and went here. Yea for gettin' my fix. The museum itself is ok. They had a Monet. And there was the Egyptian exhibit. I got to stand in front of this fantastic 4,600-year-old carving. That is unbelievable. And there was glass by this guy, Dale Chihuly. Amazing. How could no one have ever broken any of that stuff? (They haven't; I asked.) Even though I appreciated the art I saw here, it really made me appreciate H-town even more.

I wrapped up the evening with some DWTS. Emmitt vs. Mario. We'll have to wait till tomorrow to know... And I had some good pie. It's been a good day. Tonight the weather is nuts. We have a Wind Warning here. Gusts up to 60mph. The news is saying "the wind is now passing over blah blah blah" just like our guys talk about rain moving through. Windy here but like the oh-so-polite Oklahoman told me the last time I was here, "It is Oklahoma."

i apologize

...to all my friends whom I have been ignoring. Especially the calls I need to return. November is a crappy travel month. And add on all the stuff with buying a house. I will try to call some of you back tonight (but it is Dancing with the Stars finale night so I make no promises) and hopefully send some emails. And maybe post for real. I could tell you that it is cold in Oklahoma and getting colder as the week goes on. Tomorrow? Highs in the 40s and wind chill in the teens. That's nuts. Ok, I better get going. Must get to work at some point this morning.

Friday, November 10, 2006

context clues

"Overheard in the Doctor's Waiting Room" or "How to Tell a Man is Gay"

Man 1: Isn't that just like the first settee you recovered?
Man 2: Yes.

Before I get hate mail, see #82.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

travel tidbits

- I had 4 flights in 3 days (which is not my personal best).
- Only one had what I deem a good landing.
- Two had a bit of a skid (that's comforting) and one kind of just slammed into the ground.
- I like to critique the landings and wish the powers-that-be would give me Olympic (or Dancing with the Stars)-type numbers to hold up.
- I get excited and surprised when my checked luggage is the first bag to come out.
- I dislike valet parking at hotels solely because they take my keys and I forget what car I was driving.
- For the first time since the weird liquid rules started, I tried to smuggle a bottle of water through security. On accident.
- I got a little misty watching some people get greeted at the airport.
- If I ever have a significant other, please tell him that I would appreciate an occasional (maybe twice a year) surprise greeting at the airport.
- I decided that sometimes all I need to put a smile on my face is a relatively cute boy talking with an accent.
- Knoxville was quite pretty with real fall color.
- When my computer gets fixed I'll definitely post pics of that.
- The nice coordinator at the site gave us PB&J sandwiches for lunch.
- For the first time ever on a Continental flight, the snack later that day was PB&J and crackers.
- Between flights I managed to schedule a haircut (for today) and the house inspection (for tomorrow).

Monday, November 06, 2006

to do list

Ever notice how you sometimes tend to let things go? Something comes up, whether you wanted it to or not, something that you don't normally have to deal with... Say, trying to buy a house, for example. Most of your energy goes to that one thing and all the little things go by the wayside.

I really need to do things like take in dry cleaning and get my freakin' computer fixed. Maybe get a haircut (it's only been 3 months). Return an ill-fitting pair of pajama pants. Buy a cell phone that works. The thing that's driving me most crazy, though, is the computer.

If it were fixed I could share with you how cool this hotel is. I'm in our great state capitol. I didn't early vote. I know, add it to the list. And I'm not going to be home tomorrow. I'll be here. You think they'd let me vote anyway? Cut out the middle man? I don't think I'd vote for the current governor so I doubt he'd let me sneak in a vote in the wrong county. I don't know who I hope wins. I'd just like a change of scenery here in Austin. Yes, I'm a bad Ag.

Anyway, this hotel is really nice. Stunning, actually. It was built in 1886. The first inaugural ball held here was for Sul Ross when he became governor. (Does that cancel out the previous bad Ag comment?) Later, in 1934, a young politician named Lyndon Johnson met his future wife, Lady Bird, for their first date in the dining room for breakfast. He went on to await election results here at the hotel...for Senate, for Vice President (with JFK here with him), for Presidential re-election. Other politicians who stayed here and/or held their inaugural balls here include William P. Hobby, Ma Ferguson, John Connally, Ann Richards, Bill Clinton, and George W. How fitting that I'm staying here on election eve. Makes it feel even more grand.

Maybe once the computer gets fixed I'll just put up a giant picture post to catch you up on all the exciting photo ops I've had over the last few months. Wait with bated breath...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

eeeeeeeeeeee!!!

I don't know...it's just the sound I'm quietly making. I just heard back that the sellers slightly countered and we have settled on a price. Now we just have the inspection and the appraisal. And then...I'll be a homeowner. The homeowner. Of the coolest freakin' house around here. Woohoo!

Friday, November 03, 2006

the next step

I made an offer on the house.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

i got nothin'

If I'm really only supposed to post about house stuff once per week (per my self-imposed restriction), I don't think I'll be able to post anything until Monday. It is an all-consuming, stressful, exciting, wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night, splitting-headache-inducing whirlwind of, um, fun?

If you ownded a home very near the coast, do you think you would have some degree of worry in the back of your mind all through hurricane season?

If (sticking with starting all paragraphs with the same word) you had a choice, would you pick what seemed like your dream home over other so-so homes if you knew it would make money slightly tighter in the short-run?