July 30, 2007

Thanks for the memories!

Saturday was my birthday. Actually, my birthday started a week early with the Harry Potter book (which I did enjoy. It's nice to finally have a happy ending to one of those books!). Then on Saturday one of my close friends here planned a whole day full of fun events in my honor. She was one of my close friends in Baltimore who moved out here a couple months after we did in order to get married to a California guy. I did their wedding invitations, we go walking every other weekend and now she gave me a fantastic day.

We met them at 10 am and drove to a local stable for a horseriding expedition. It was the first time Jrex ever rode a horse and the first time I had since girl scout camp as a little girl. The good news was that Jrex came away considering riding lessons and a potential back-country horseback tour. I would LOVE to do something like that.

After that we had lunch in Saratoga at a cute little restaurant. The wallpaper, the decor and the bathrooms all felt like visiting your old-fashioned grandmother's house, but the food was great. Then we blitzed down to Santa Cruz for a boat tour of the bay.


To finish off the lovely day, my amazing husband cooked us all a gourmet feast with pancetta pasta in a homemade sauce, organic greens for a salad and two little berry pies for dessert (he bought those, don't worry).

I've had wonderful birthdays before; this was the first time I had a complete birthday week!

July 29, 2007

The Good, the Bad and The Sleepy

Bottom line: Jrex has horrible timing. Three months ago he bought my birthday present. It arrived on Saturday. Unfortunately, on Sunday we had to travel up to Sonoma to visit some vineyards. I endured the suffering as we met one of my best friends and her new husband, sampled wines, laughed and talked all day. Finally that night, I was able to crack open the gift. Of course, the next day I had to start a new job. Tired.

The stupid gift took me until Thursday night to finish. I kept staying awake trying to just ‘get ‘er done’ and couldn’t do it. This would have been fine if I had a brain dead job. Monday through Wednesday I was supposed to just be doing training to get started at work. However the design department has been understaffed since February. Any time I wasn’t in training, they had me starting projects. I’ll be handling all the events and tradeshows for S*n M1crosyst3ms. They have three coming up in September so I was thrown off the deep end figuring out their brand and modifying designs. Of course, I couldn’t complain about my exhaustion because the phrase, “I stayed up late reading the last Harry Potter book” certainly wasn’t going to enhance my professional image.

July 24, 2007

Sigh of regret

I've been too disheartened to post. I had a wonderful photo essay to share with you. Title: "Guess the event?!". Photos of little children in pointy hats. An adult dressed in green with vines twining up and down the gown, brown pointy hat and aloe in hand. A short man with a long blong wig, black robe and stamp with a snake writhing through a skull standing next to a grinning 'tourist'. Inside, surrounded by children, wearing a vaguely Robin Hoodish outfit, a HUGE man reading aloud. A photo of a sign mounted to a chain-link enclosure: "Hit the Snitch" and then a shot of a poor little kid, baseball bat in hand, sitting astride a broomstick on a bench. Images of painted tubas as the Stanford marching band, in all their 'normal' crazy outfits and planned insanities take over the sidewalk to the cheers of the crowd.

All that wonderfulness was tragically over-written by photos of the next day. I'll try and post the new photos tomorrow (we drove three hours south to visit some friends and came back via Route 1 and Big Sur). But I'm a little bitter toward the new photos, so it might be hard.

Oh, and I started my job finally. More to come on that as well. Once I finish grieving.

July 19, 2007

I think we've gone native

Last night, Jrex called me before he biked home from lab, "Hey, I found a great butcher shop near our house, so I thought of grilling a steak and some fish for you." Now, when I think "butcher shop" I picture a little corner store nestled in the city, gleaming white inside, but a bit sketchy on the outside. I racked my brains to think where they hid the butcher shop. Why hadn't I noticed it before?

When he got home, we drove five minutes down the road and turned into the Stanford mall. Please note: that's not the name of the town. The town that is next to the Stanford campus is Palo Alto. Stanford University has it's own zip code and it's very own mall. On campus. Not just a little student supplies kind of mall, this one has Nordstroms, Macys, Saks, etc. The butcher shop was in a mall. No wonder I had no idea where it was!

Walking toward the shop we were distracted by a farmers market in the plaza between the shops. Before moving to California I didn't really like fruits and vegetables. I've heard that if Sweet and Lo tastes bitter, you have an extra bitter receptor. I HATE the stuff. Which explains why most fruits and veggies have been unpleasant for me, unripe=bitter. For bad or for good, growing edibles in an irrigated desert means they are really good and consistently ripe. I now understand why tomatoes are considered fruit. They are SO good here. We bought some white nectarines and asparagus, thought about getting some pluots (plum/apricot) and bought sweet corn. The heirloom tomatoes were ugly, as usual, but smelled like summer.

Once inside, I asked the butcher if they sold dry-aged steak, he looked miffed, "All our steak is dry-aged." Well, excuuuse me! I guess that explained the prices then. For fish options I got to pick between Chilean sea bass, fresh halibut, swordfish or tilapia. Mmmm....

Back at home, Jrex fired up the best birthday present I've ever given him:

Obviously, it was a completely altruistic gift. He loves grilled steak. I was only thinking of him! The fact that he's grilled at least once a week since receiving it? It's all for his sake. If something gives him pleasure, who am I to deny him? It's ok, you can give me my wife of the year award any time now.

Hey, I DID make the salad. And steamed the asparagus. Those are really hard jobs, you know.

July 17, 2007

Home sweet home

I’m having trouble distilling the events of this past weekend into a coherent post.

Don't ask...

First there was the United Airlines fiasco wherein our two hour layover stretched to six. By itself, a delay is no problem. However, they found mechanical issues in our plane, tried to fix it, then moved us all to a smaller plane. 14 people were bumped. They never asked for volunteers who were willing to wait for the next flight, just bumped people according to The List. Apparently The List was a malicious evil-mongerer who delighted in forcing a 9-year old, on her way to a worldwide conference specializing in her neurological disorder, from the plane. Without. Her. Parents. Who were in tears trying to get their girl onto the plane. We’re nice people. We volunteered to give up our seats. The List said, you can’t give up your seat to her, it only goes to the next person in line. The supervisor kept repeating that she couldn’t violate The List. They made us get on the plane. After another 15 minutes we saw the family of three all get on the plane. The mother and daughter happened to sit behind us. “What happened?” The mother was crying, “Seven people said they’d wait so we could get on this flight.”

All I can say is that when next you come to dinner at our house, don’t mention United. Jrex has turned into the anti-evangelist and will tell you the story in all it’s gory details. Are we so trapped by computers now that we can’t think for ourselves?!!

The Wedding
What can I say? On some level every wedding is unique of course, but really, as a story, they’re all the same. If you know that it’s right, the families are happy and nothing goes wrong, there’s really not much to say except that it was lovely. They were radiant, her Dad cried as he walked her up the aisle, the dress and flowers were beautiful and everyone had fun. I do love the fact that the church she’s part of consists of elders and pastors who hit the dance floor and boogie til the DJ has to leave.

The Fourth Bridesmaid
The main story I have to tell about the wedding involves The Fourth Bridesmaid, Ms. Sword. Now, Ms. Sword had a dilemma. Much as she wanted to be present for the wedding, she was also due to be in Africa for the summer. The Bride graciously let her go, but Ms. Sword wanted to be in both places at once. She conspired with me to make it happen. She arrived two weeks before the wedding encased in Styrofoam having survived a flight from China. I decided to have her join us as we got dressed for the wedding. She was already dressed and her hair was done, so it made sense that she come out then. I presented her to The Bride, who squealed in delight. We took pictures of the two of them together, of Ms. Sword sampling the snack food and then when we went out front to take the group photos, she joined us. At the wedding we decided to have her wait at the head table during the ceremony. When it came time for the reception, Ms. Sword went wild! She got some drinks at the bar, had an ‘incident’ in the bathroom—to much liquor for her--and hit the dance floor for some fun. The Bride’s father asked to borrow her to show her off to all the older relatives. She’s a social girl and she certainly made the rounds. People kept assuming that we bridesmaids had come up with how to have Ms. Sword at the wedding, but the credit and creativity are all hers:

In case you're wondering, you can order these on-line. You send in a photo and they make a Bobble-head with your face and hair. You pick from over 100 bodies, and they happened to have a dress that matched the style and color of the bridesmaids' dresses. The flower was taped to her for the wedding.

July 11, 2007

We're off

Well, I just found out that I won't start work until the 23rd. Ugh! I'm trying to scrounge up some design jobs for the next week. I'm definitely sick of sitting around our house. I guess I'll pretend I'm a teacher and off for the summer. Do some painting. Finish a sculpture I stated over two years ago. File my nails. Go stir crazy...

We're leaving tonight to fly to Rochester, NY for one of my best friend's weddings. At least this time Jrex can come along. Fortunately for him, he knows many people who will be at the wedding. In fact, contrary to all claims to introversion, he's the one with the packed social schedule. I'm just there to help the bride, he's got three lunches scheduled, a breakfast and visits to old friends in his U of R lab. I'd hoped we could go for a walk at Mendon Ponds, the place he proposed to me, but at this rate by the end of the weekend I'll be asking, "Jrex, who? Oh, the cute guy who sat next to me on the airplane? Sure, I'd love to meet him."

Sunday or Monday I should have some fun photos and stories to share.

July 10, 2007

I'm a horrible poker player!

I just called the headhunter. I tried all the lines, "Is there room to negotiate the salary?" "This is at the low range for designers in the area."

All she had to say was, "It's within the range you said you were ok with. I'll be happy to go back to them if that's what you really want me to do, but there's always a risk..." I totally caved.

Whatever! I'm not upset about it at all. Let's just say that when you need someone to haggle, when you have delicate hostage negotiations, a tricky poker game, a mother-in-law who needs some boundaries, you know who NOT to call...

I have an offer!

I literally just did a post about how I was sure I was going to have to wait until tomorrow to hear anything when the headhunter called me!

I'm in the middle of trying to get past the excited ball rolling and jumping in my stomach to figure out how to gracefully negotiate. Let me just say: full medical, full dental, pension plan, 401(k) and 20 days off a year plus six paid holidays! It's at the low end of the pay range for designers in this area, but the full package sounds great.

I've never had a career job. This feels huge. What have I gotten myself into?!

July 6, 2007

I love being unemployed!

Here's what I did with my glorious first day of unemployment:

1. grembled at Jrex for waking me up with questions and good mornings at the ridiculously early hour of 7:30.
2. rolled over and finished the totally trashy Regency romance Novel I'd started the night before.
3. checked email and Instant Messaged with people from the Game Design job.
4. figured I should start my day with some food...at noon. Just a quick snack
5. rode my bike to the Aveda salon to exchange the super saturating, made my hair feel like a grease pit, "Smoothing" shampoo for my beloved Shampure. So much for change and adventure.
6. rode to Palo Alto to meet a new friend for lunch.

New Friend is from Cincinnati so we happily remembered ice cream at Graeters and alternative music shows at Bogarts and Sudsy Malones. She knows my 'hood, at least by reputation, so she asked great questions about what it was like to grow up there. We discussed the riots of 2001 and how it has decimated my neighborhood as well as downtown. She told me that The Maisonette, the oldest continuously running 5 star restaurant in the country, closed last year since people are still afraid to go downtown. When she mentioned Arnold's restaurant it was fun to mention that I used to babysit the owner's children. (I'm SORRY, OTRmama--the kids were great even if their Dad was a bit narcissistic. Yes, it's true that at my mother's funeral Mr. Arnold stood outside and shook hands with the 500 mourners. He was running for mayor at the time, or something like that--but Mrs. Arnold and the kids were wonderful.)

7. rode back. Stopped by the Library to get books and CDs for the weekend. Chatted with my homeless buddy outside the library. Also chatted with a new homeless guy who had a sign pinned on his suitcase "I need shelter. Something basic like a garage or a shed." He looks like a college prof, older, white, nice glasses, clean. A little twitchy, but not totally over the edge. I didn't have any of the resources he needs, but I'm worried for him. I hate living in a world with such vast gaps in resources. The whole story would take it's own post... I'm just sad for him right now.
8. walked La Mutt. Considered buying a flat of fresh strawberries from the nice man on the corner, but didn't have the cash.
9. sat down to write a quick, short entry (ha!)

July 5, 2007

The Waiting...

The word on the street is that I'm the top candidate. I was supposed to see an offer this morning, but the headhunter called to tell me that a couple of key decision makers are out of the office (good old July 4th!). Her contact at [The Firm] is hoping to have the offer finished early next week.

I've never done this whole offer/counter-offer/contract deal before in my life. How long does it take? Obviously The Firm is in no great rush! Financially this could really suck, but the timing is good otherwise. Jrex and I are flying out Wednesday night on the red-eye to Rochester, NY. One of my best friends is getting married and I'll be sporting my periwinkle bridesmaid's dress.

All my previous jobs were verbal agreements (yeah, yeah, I know it's stupid, blah blah blah). Jrex is still in training so HE hasn't ever done the offer dance either. We're a couple of middle-aged (well, in a decade or so...) babes-in-the-woods!

July 2, 2007

Aaaaannnnndddd more news only interesting to me...

Email from the headhunter:
Just wanted to touch base with you. I have heard very positive feedback from [Company Initials] regarding your interview. They are looking to hopefully make a decision by the end of the week. I will be in touch as soon as I have more information.

The good news is that they gave her the positive feedback BEFORE the Fabulous Hand-made Thank You cards that I sent on Friday.

This one is for the first guy I interviewed with. Content/Concept: 'I would love to continue the conversation.'

For the nice California-man. Concept: 'I'd love to work among such able craftsmen.'

For Cynical Man of the famous "What scares you?" line of questions. Concept: 'I would love to join such strategic thinkers.'

What? What's the job, you ask? Here's Earnest Man's answer when I asked what they were looking for:

"Well, there are a lot of great designers out there. We know that, our clients know that. In many ways we're forging new design territory. We're more than just trade show or event designers. Instead of our clients coming to us to say, 'here's what we want', we're going to them to say, 'this is what you should do'. We need someone who can think strategically, who can design where nothing exists, who can write phantom text and then design around it. Someone who can interact directly with clients with persuasive pitches, who can work with a team but then run with it individually."

I continued with another well-articulated, scinillating question while inside I was jumping up and down, "It's me!! Pick ME!"