Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Lurrve Boat, Part 2: Mom the Inadvertent Haggler, and the Angel of American Airlines

Okay, where were we?

Oh, snubaing. After snuba, Mom, Guy, and I went back to the cruise ship and dried off, changed clothes, and got lunch. Guy wandered around solo while Mom and I went back to shore to do a little duty-free shopping. Our first stop was the jewelry markets, where we thought we might find some nice silver, for which Cozumel is known. Despite the downpours soaking Cozumel on Saturday, the vendors were out and about, beckoning us into their shops with heavily accented, "Come see, Miss! Have a look, Senora! Welcome!" Mom and I wandered into a store loaded with silver jewelry glittering in its windows. I'm a sucker for silver, and Mom's always been drawn to prehistoric and ancient symbols and mythology, so we knew we were in the right place when we found silver pendants with images of Mayan gods on them.

"This one," said the store manager as he held up a malachite and silver pendant a little smaller than a half-dollar, "is the Mayan god of rain."

"We're in a bad drought in Georgia," replied Mom. "I'll take it!"

She went to the counter only briefly, then returned to the shelf from whence she got it. She leaned into my ear and whispered, "No can do. He wanted $165 for it. That's way out of my price range."

"Oh well," I whispered back. "We might be able to find you something a little more affordable in another store." I continued to look around a bit, and it took a few minutes to realize that my mother and the manager were still chatting back and forth, his voice having taken on a hopeful tone. I had made a lap around the store to find Mom back at the counter with the man, who was shining the pendant and holding it up eagerly.

"Forty dollars?" offered the man.

Mom looked at me, eyebrows arched. "What do you think?" she asked. Her face was a bit pinched, like she wasn't sure if she was being robbed or not.

"It's a nice pendant, Mom," I replied, cool as a margarita. "And that's a good price for malachite."

"Okay, I think I can do $40," Mom said.

"Excellent!" the manager replied. "I wrap for you!"

Now, I might have been cool on the outside, but inside I was going WTF? My mom just bargained El Jefe down to 24% of his asking price? Damn, I gotta take her shopping more often! The fellow then proceeded to sell me a lapis lazuli pendant and earrings for a little less than half price, though I wish I bargained him down a little more. I think Mom put me to shame on that one. As we left the store, Mom explained to me that she just really couldn't afford to pay a lot for jewelry, since only El Seebeno is working and they had to fix their car recently, so she wasn't trying to be rude, just honest. Suddenly she stopped and turned to me, a little surprised. "Did I just haggle?" she asked.
"You didn't just haggle, Mom," I laughed. "You kicked ass."

We sailed out of Cozumel late that afternoon and spent a day at sea, arriving back into Mobile, AL on our birthday, which was Monday. After finally getting through customs, Mom and El Seebeno drove us to the Pensacola airport and dropped us off. We waited around for our flight, which was to take off at 5pm sharp. At 4:30pm, the gate agent for American Airlines informed us over the loudspeaker that the plane was finally pulling in, so they'd clean it really quickly and get us loaded. Five minutes later, a new announcement: the plane that would take us to Dallas (where Guy and I would then return to Denver) was hit by lightning on its way to Pensacola, so there was no chance it was getting back off the ground until it had been worked on. They were very sorry, blah blah blah, they were going to start moving folks onto other flights, wait until your name is called, blah blah blah.

"Whatever," said Guy. "You stand in line; I'm gonna run back to the terminal to see if we can get on another airline."

Guy retruned about ten minutes later with no good news. One AA guy read him the riot act for not being at the gate, while the other one said that yes, if he found a flight on another airline, he'd transfer the tickets for us. AirTran had no good news; any flight they got us on wouldn't get us to Denver until the next day, as we'd miss all their connecting flights out of Atlanta. Guy, however, was undaunted.

"Stay here," he huffed, out of breath from running all over the wee Pensacola Airport/Hair Salon/Tire Center. "I'm gonna run down to the gates below us and check Continental."

Guy returned less than five minutes later. "Come on; we're going to Chicago."

We ran downstairs from our present gate to see a small, blond woman typing furiously on a computer, muttering, "Come on, gimme that screen, come, not that one, this we go...back up back up back up dadgummit...." After about five minutes of her solid typing, she pointed at me, then Guy. "You're in 6B, you're in 5A. Go run get on the plane, and I'll bring you your boarding passes for your connecting flight."

"Thank you!" we practically prayed to her as we ran across the tarmac to hop on a flight to Chicago that should have been gone twenty minutes before. After several more minutes, the flight attendant was about to shut the door when we all heard a small shout of "WAIT!" outside the plane. Out our western windows, here comes our American Airlines angel, running hellbent for leather across the tarmac screaming "Give these to 6B and 5A!"

With our connecting flight boarding passes in hand, Guy and I took off for the Windy City with a sigh of relief. It was not until we got to Chicago that we realized that our angel had booked us on FIRST CLASS on the flight to Denver. We curled up in our oversized seats with nice fuzzy blankets and snoozed the entire two hours home from Chicago. Our luggage didn't make it home to us until Tuesday afternoon, but who gives a damn? It's extremely rare that I use real names on this blog, but Patricia Gifford of American Airlines at the Pensacola Regional Airport performed a minor miracle for us on Monday. Happy birthday to us!

All in all, the trip was marvelous and a welcome escape from the everyday. Hopefully we can go on a cruise again in the next few years, perhaps on a bigger boat with a bowling alley. Or more shuffleboards, so we can have a rematch against Mom and El Seebeno. It was a delight to hang out with my mom, whom I love dearly, and my stepdad, who always makes me laugh, and my Guy, who may be the best birthday gift ever.

And who, hopefully, will now stop singing "The Love Boat" theme.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Lurrve Boat, Part 1: The Libido Deck and snubarifficness

Okay, I'm finally back from the cruise. I misspoke earlier in that our cruise was not in the Carribean, but rather in the Gulf of Tonkin--um, I mean, Mexico. We sailed out of Mobile to Cozumel and back and had a wonderful, wonderful time. Guy and I had some nice us time in our lovely stateroom with a king size bed (made of two smaller beds that formed a ridge between us and kept me from hogging the bed, says Guy) and a great view of the ocean. I never realized just how blue the ocean is. I either see it from way up high in a plane or at the Atlantic Ocean coast, where it's brown/grey and fonky. Y'all, we really do live on a blue planet. And it's a beautiful planet indeed.

The ship was an older one, had a bit of a disco-ish feel, but it was a good size for the four of us in that it was hard to get too lost. After a day and a half, we knew where most everything was. The food was pretty darn good as well, the main dining rooms being yummier and more elegantly prepared than the main buffet on the Lido Deck. After lunch the first day, Mom and I did recon around the boat, seeking out the gym and spa, first and foremost. We wandered up to the top deck and found the gym, then sat down on a bench in the gym lobby to review the list of classes and services. Suddenly, three rather heavyset, middle-aged women wandered off the elevator, saw the word "gym", and turned to confer with each other.

"Huh," said one. "Ah thank we went too far up."
"I thank so," said another. "Y'all wanna go to the buffet on the Libido deck?"
"Yeah," said the third. "Let's go back dayown to the Libido deck."

May I interject that this conversation took place without a trace of humor or irony. However, the humor and irony of it was not lost on us. Mom got the joke first, but it took a few seconds to hit my two-cycle weedwhacker of a brain. Mom was shaking with laughter until they were safely down the stairs.
"Gawd!" she burst out laughing. "The Libido Deck?"
I looked around for a hidden camera. "Do you think she even knows what she said?"
"Christ, I dunno," Mom said as she wiped her eyes. "I don't know much, but even I know what a libido is, and I don't think that woman would know one if it bit her on her ass."
"She might if it had a buffet," I replied.

Saturday in Cozumel, El Seebeno found something relaxing to do while Mom, Guy, and I went snuba. Snuba is kinda like going scuba diving, except that your breathing thingy apparatus/darth Vader mouthpiece is attached not to tanks on your back but to a long tube that goes up to an air tank that floats on the surface on a little raft. You can only go down about 18 or 20 feet, but it was still pretty damn cool. We saw lots of totally neato fish, including a rockfish that our guide goosed out of its hiding place. Of course, we can never stray too far from our usual humor: Guy spotted a fish taking a dump as it swam along, pointed it out, and made me laugh. Hint: never laugh with a scuba breathing thing in your mouth. Smiling introduces nonair-like substances into your mouth, like seawater. Even though the sun hid the whole day and it even rained on us, we had a great time under the sea. Those swimming fins make you swim really far. I actually had the thought, "I wonder if this is what being a mermaid is like!" Yes, Pixie, that's exactly what it's like, except the mermaids come to Cozumel via unicorn. However, my mommy was cute in her silver swimsuit and bright red hair flailing behind her as she swam above Guy and me.

I'm really tired today for reasons I will explain tomorrow in part two of my cruise report.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shiny Object Syndrome and Dorkapalooza

My SOS was doing well today until Elliot and I sat down with one of the partners to talk about the Intern 101 seminar, which is now scheduled for the Friday after I get back. After a brief but productive meeting and a fairly productive day (not too many emails and phone calls to interrupt me), my SOS kicked in with 1.5 hours to go in the workday. Elliot and I heckled each other along with our new colleage Will, who sits in the seat vacated by the ever-dear Jimmy Ray, who occasionally tosses in quips for his own amusement and ours. I took breaks to post new comments from Miss Kitty and Baxtersmum, who continue to heckle each other about various levels of dorkitude on my blog. You have to understand that Bax and I went to Georgia Tech, whereas Miss Kitty went to our rival school, University of Georgia, presumably because she did not already have a high school diploma. I must say in UGA's defense that I rather enjoy visiting its campus in Athens, GA, as it is well-laid out, green, walkable, easy to park on, and there's the added bonus that if you drive past the campus with your car window down, they'll throw a diploma in your back seat. (Seriously, it's a great campus, fantastic downtown with great shopping and dining, and unlike most colleges, their on-campus dining is spectacular.)

A little later, Sarge came by to kvetch about the sorry state of Wanda's drawings. Yes, Wanda is still around, but she's annoying in new ways these days. "I swear to God," lamented Sarge. "What is up with Design Associates hiring all these 'architects' who can't use CAD worth a damn! Seriously, people, learn to draw a line and use a space object correctly!" We also indulged in a bit of schadefreude over the recent termination of a usually-annoying employee at DA. Evidently, this young intern decided she couldn't work with her immediate boss and didn't want to work on the banks that our office does, so they told her to hit the bricks. She then tried to backpedal with no success. I suppose it's for the best. It's odd, though, as she'd been acting a lot less annoying lately, but I guess this little stunt was more than anyone felt like tolerating.

Finally, I'd had enough. I left at two til five, came home and made a little dinner, then cleaned the kitchen and started the dishwasher. I cleaned the bathroom and the floors (mostly) this weekend and did all my laundry too. There's something about going on a trip that makes me want everything clean. I guess after staying in nice hotel rooms on vacation, you want to come home to a clean, pretty house where you can just dump your luggage and be done.

We fly out tomorrow morning. See you kids next week!

Monday, September 17, 2007

T minus--ooh! That's shiny!

We leave Wednesday morning, and I've already got Shiny Object Syndrome. I get distracted by anything and everything. I can hardly focus, which is not usually a good thing because my projects have had a few issues here lately. The owners of the little nuclear medicine remodel decided to redo everything to get costs down, which isn't as bad as it sounds since the contractor had not yet taken the plans to the city for review. Meanwhile, the city is giving my contractor fits about the radiology center at MHRC--they saw the MRI and decided that we had to submit two sets of plans to the wastewater department to make sure that we're not flooding the city's sewer system with radioactive isotopes, thereby causing small turtles in the sewer system to become human-sized pizza-eating turtle ninjas. To which I say, "Hey city of Denver, where's your sense of adventure?"

I'm supposed to be packing, but I got online to check the weather for the Caribbean, then had to post a little snark/comment from my mathematically-challenged sister, then started writing this post--ooh! I should bring that necklace I bought in Boston! It's got pearls in it and looks kinda sea-faring-ish! Damn, there I go again.

Faded asked in the comments how old we were. Guy is 38 and I'm 31, seven years apart to the day. My mom is 58 and her husband, El Seebeno, is 49 (koo-koo-kitchoo, Mrs. Robinson). None of us are terribly old, per se, but I hear that cruise ship crowds are skewing younger and younger these days. Mom said last time, for example, she never really got in the pool on the ship because it was filled with "drunk-ass young'uns", meaning tanked college students eager to take advantage of the lower drinking age at their port of call. But that was in June a few years ago, and something tells me we'll have a few more grownups aboard this time, being late September and all.

[Pointer Sisters dance] I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it! I'm about to cruise with Mom and I think I like it! [adjusting legwarmers]

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's (almost) our birthday, get busy

All the drama of the past few weeks had me forgetting that something was coming to which I could look forward. First of all, I should mention that Guy and I have the same birthday, seven years apart. This makes celebrating our birthdays easier, as it means we can take a trip and do something fun together for the occasion. We do trips instead of exchanging gifts because a) we like experiences more than stuff and b) vacations are nice. We almost got married on our birthday, except I told him I wanted two trips a year and I'm not letting him off that cheaply. After all, I let him off the hook for an engagement ring. However, it could be said that that's how I got an Elvis wedding in Vegas and two years in a row at the Venetian--combined, they're the same cost as a decent diamon solitaire.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, birthday. So our birthday is not this but next Monday. My mom and stepdad (Mom and El Seebeno of Educated & Poor fame at my sister's blog) came up with the idea of going on a cruise together, and Guy readily agreed. Yes. He agreed to go on a cruise with my mother and her husband. This is like going on a cruise with Bette Midler and Randy Quaid a la National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. If nothing else, Guy is intrepid. So, for four days, we're going to traipse around the Carribean with my fam.

I've finally had a chance to get excited about it this weekend. Mom and I are back and forth on the phone, figuring out what to wear, what to bring, what to do on the ship, etc. Mom's actually excited about going to the ship's gym with me.
"What'n'na hell you goin' to the gym for?" hollered El Seebeno in the background while Mom and I were on the phone. "You goin' on vacation! You ain't s'posed to be exercisin'!"
"How often do I get to work out or take a yoga class with my daughter?" she shot back. Like I said, she's actually excited about it. As am I. Just hanging out with her should be a lot of fun.
"What're you gonna do on the ship, hon?" I inquired of my beloved. "Hang out at the pool with El Seebeno and get lit?"
"Hell," Guy replied. "I'm gonna get lit in my room! I'm on vacation!"

This should be a bonding experience for Guy and El Seebeno.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A (photo)sensitive subject

My sister Miss Kitty has posted kind of about this recently, so I talked to her and to some of my colleagues/peeps about it as well. By "this" I mean a feeling of slight malaise, not quite depression per se, but a little lowness that can only be sensed in the afternoons these days. It's this weird mix of feeling a little down, like something's ended, but at the same time a kind of relief.

I didn't recall feeling this last year, don't recall feeling it for a while now, until now. I guess I'm back to being normally busy (as opposed to crazy busy) so I can actually notice the change in light, temperature, and energy. I know what I'm feeling is the beginning of fall and a lot of the reflexive back-to-school depression I'm sure is caused by 20 years of going back to school (kindergarten through M.Arch). On the one hand, I'm a little let down that summer is over. No more cute little dresses and open-toed shoes, no more laying out by the pool, no more sun coming up at 5:30am to help get me out of bed to go for a swim or run. However, I have the kind of coloring that looks better in fall and winter colors, I still laid out by the pool yesterday because it was 86 degrees, and the weather is finally cooperating with my total lack of desire to be really busy.

It must be the change of light, i suppose. I really only feel the malaise in the afternoon, when the light slants in a funny way over the building across the street from Design Associates' office. I also feel it in the way that I'm cold more of the time in the office, I suppose because it's not as warm outside anymore (80s instead of 90s). Derek and I were talking about it on Friday, and he commented that the feeling of fall approaching makes him feel like it's time to batten down and snuggle up, especially now that he has a baby girl. I guess that makes sense, and that I need to stop fighting the snoozeworthy feeling. If it weren't so late already today, I'd go take a nap.

Monday, September 3, 2007

To sleep, perchance to dream...

Guy and I did the smartest/cheeziest thing this weekend. We got a hotel room so we could try out a bed. Here's the deal: Guy's back has given him problems for a while, my hips and mid-back have developed more tweaks and aches than they used to have, and the mattress we bought six years ago isn't holding up near as well as we thought it would. Oddly enough, our queen-size bed seems to have gotten smaller as time has rocked on. I roll over to get comfy only to get a knee in the kidneys from Guy. He moves his arm out only to whomp me in the head with a Dusty-Rhodes-atomic-elbow move. Toss a 13-lb sleeping-on-my-head cat into the mix, and you have a recipe for a rough night's sleep.

[And I know the obvious suggestion is get the cat out of the bed. Oh, we've tried. You can throw her off as you're going to sleep, but then you wake up at 3am with your arm wrapped around a furry purring meatloaf. Even Guy has ended up in this blackmail-worthy position. And say what you will about them bugging you, but now and then, they pinch-hit best when the alarm and snooze button fail to work. She knows I need to get up and go to work so I can make money for cat food and crunchy treats.)

We've found that time and again, sleeping in a king size bed seems to help a great deal. We've also been thinking about one of those air-mattress beds, a la the Sleep Number bed by Select Comfort, for whom Lindsey Wagner is always testifying on TV. With the two halves isolating the sleepers from movement, we wouldn't be bugging each other when Guy goes to bed two hours after me and I get up an hour and a half before him. Also, it's inevitable that one of us has a tossy-turney night when the other wakes up in the same position they went to sleep in, and isolated halves of a mattress would reduce that motion transfer as well. And yes, I realize that I sound like a commercial as I type this, but we've actually been thinking a great deal about this lately. I mean, you give a lot of thought to how much you like your job and where you work, and you spend at least eight hours a day there. So why not give your bed and your quality of sleep some thought, since you spend 7-8 hours a day there as well? And we're not just doing this out of the blue. My mom has this bed, and she and my stepdad really like theirs. And my mom doesn not spend that kind of money on a whim.

So last night, off we went to a Radisson hotel to stay the night, have a lovely labor Day night out, and try out a Sleep Number bed before we dropped over $1000 on a mattress. We checked in, and Guy immediately laid down and found his number. We went to dinner and upon our return laid back down on the bed and started fiddling with the remote. Or more precisely, I started fiddling with the remote. I went to 100, then to 15, then to 85, then 35. I finally settled on 50, and I believe Guy decided to try 40 for the night. [Note: a higher number is harder, lower number is softer.]

We awoke this morning just before room service arrived with breakfast. "How'd you sleep?" Guy asked. "Like Lindsay Wagner," I replied. "Really? Can we rebuild you and make you stronger?" Guy joked. Room service saved me from having to come up with a snappy comeback.

So, the verdict: nice bed. Also, nice pillow. I've slept well on a super-firm mattress and on a fluffy mattress, but I think the pillow has something to do with it as well. I like having a bed big enough that there's some space between Guy and me when we sleep, and not because I think he's a hideous bastard or something. One, we both tend to sleep like whirling dervishes, so we need some room so we can engage in this type of Stage 4, delta-wave breakdancing. Also, Guy has pronounced me overly exothermic, so everytime I try to snuggle up on him he's fanning himself like he's getting hot flashes. Both of us are tired of waking up in the middle of the night sweating like Senator Larry Craig in an airport men's room. We'd like to make it through the night without going Jet Li on someone's ribs by accident. And our experience last night shows that we might just benefit from this sort of thing.

So, yes. We treated ourselves to a night out just to try out the bed. Oh, and to have someone else bring us breakfast. That too.