Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Crisis Averted

I don't even know why I thought I was gonna get out of Hurricane Sandy totally unscathed...

A few hours ago, I got an email informing me that my flight from BWI to Boston was cancelled. No other information, no offer to switch anything, just a very nice email stating, without frivolousness, CANCELED.


A panicked phone call to my aunt, and then a 60-minute wait on hold with Jet Blue later and I had come up with four possible scenarios:

1. Find a flight out of an airport not too far away that isn't totally shut down and jacked because of the hurricane.

2. Lie down on the floor and wait for someone to come along and find me.

3. Rent a car and drive to Boston before my flight tomorrow.

4. Start drinking.

I wasn't sure if my travel insurance would cover options 2, 3, or 4 (ALTHOUGH THEY SHOULD, especially if you were to be extra industrious and combined options 2 and 4), so I stuck it out on hold with Jet Blue and hoped that my cell phone wouldn't crap out on me. Sprint, don't fail me now (like you have the last 400 times I tried to make an outgoing call). 

The rep was so totally friendly, I thought I must have accidentally called a hotline. I know that this person has probably dealt with hundreds of anxious, screaming, upset people over the last 72 or so hours, but he was so delightfully helpful and straightforward with me that I wanted to send him something lovely like a fruit basket, or a hug.

Instead, I just stuck to being courteous and patient, because those are less creepy and probably not illegal.

The friendly rep got me on a flight out of DC earlier tomorrow, which puts me in Boston a full 8 hours before my flight to Heathrow and then to Abu Dhabi. Soooooo, 30 hours of travel tomorrow. 


I'd settle for a Thai massage.

Just kidding. I'd settle for seeing The Gentleman's stupid face. 

And eating dates.

And hommus. (pronounced CHSCHOO-MOOOOS)

And drink Turkish coffee.

And frolic on the beach with minihorses, which The Gentleman says run free in the UAE.

He might have made that up.

Either way...I am Abu Dhabi- and Dubai-bound for 10 days tomorrow morning. Finally.

And no one had to come retrieve me off of the floor.

Hurricane Schmurricane

OK, I'm not gonna lie, it got a little scary there for awhile.

After living in Florida for three years and two of the most active hurricane seasons on record (2004-2005), I've adopted a healthy dose of realism about hurricanes. Plan for the power to go out, don't freak out, and hunker down when you need to. That's basically all you can do. 


Mostly, though, this time I was stressed because of my upcoming trip. So far, though, all of my flights seem to be running on time. The storm has mostly passed through, aside from a few errant rain bands, and my flight isn't until tomorrow night.

And this hurricane has bought me some much-needed time to get some work done and feel a little more prepared for my trip. Which means more packing. Which could be bad. The longer I have to pack, the more I start slipping extra things into my suitcase, reasoning - "Oh, I might need that....and that....and THAT." 

Note: you probably don't need "that...and THAT." Just one "that" is enough, I'm sure.

Also, here are two helpful hints for dealing with hurricanes:

Because when else is a "good" time for absinthe?

A handy way to address a leaky kitchen ceiling AND conserve water!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


So it's like supposed to hurricane, and there's earthquakes and tsunamis and all over Facebook, everyone is all "OH MY GOD IT'S 2012 THE WORLD IS CLEARLY ENDING."


The world is not ending. It's just...having a bad day. It's a little grumpy.


Let's hope. I'm sort of halfway packed, and I know that I'll end up shoving a bunch of crap into my suitcase last-minute right before I leave (yes, I totally need a down vest to head out to the 90-degree Middle East), but I've got two very long work days ahead of me before vacation starts. That's assuming, of course, that I have work tomorrow. Which I do. Assume, that is. Because it's kind of dangerous not to. 

Either way, I am  just hoping that, as always, this storm amounts to little more than some serious rain for a day and we're all back to our lives and moving on so that I can get on that damn plane on Wednesday and blow this Popsicle stand for awhile.

In other news - I went to early voting today and stood in line with all of the other early voters to cast my ballot for the 2012 Presidential Election. It is a surreal feeling to know that I'll leave the country this week and, when I return, we will have a new President-Elect. In some ways, it's a relief. This is a stressful election. It's too close to call at this point. Thanks, Republican party, for the McCain-Palin ticket back in 2008 because that was just ludicrous. It was a joke to think that anyone but Obama would win, but this year...it's just too close for comfort. 


I am relieved to not be bombarded by all of the commentary and endless projections that are going to be everywhere for the next ten days. I'll find out the results, a day late, probably via al Jazeera, which is fine by me.

Have I mentioned how much I love al Jazeera? I got into it last year when we were in Amman. It's like if CNN and HBO got together and said - "Let's do really interesting news, but film it beautifully." Love.

But in the meantime...everyone is fuh-reaking out, and I am just making sure that my iPad and phone are charged so that I will be entertained in case the power goes out. Oh, and I bought some extra wine. Just in case.

Three days until Abu Dhabi and The Gentleman! Hooray!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Elbow Sweat and Teeth Grinding

Last night during bikram, I discovered that my elbows sweat.

The time before, it was the medical discovery that your shins can sweat. 

Say what you will about bikram, but I feel like a million bucks afterwards. Something about sweating so much, you just can't not feel like you've been working hard for 90 minutes.

So, I was in bikram last night trying to get to that place. You know - that delightful, zen place where your mind is gently blank and you feel as though you can approach life with peaceful confidence. I get that feeling often after working out,  but it's especially evident when I do yoga or bikram, which are designed to elevate and then lower your heart rate over the course of the workout. 

But, the truth is, it's a little difficult for me to find my zen right now.

Last week with The Gentleman was lovely. Absolutely lovely. And I supposed someday I'll get more used to the hello-goodbye of our "new normal" (probably just in time for his overseas contract to end), but in the meantime I can't pretend that it's still not difficult. It was, of course, monumentally easier to say goodbye this time because I knew I'd see him in less then two weeks.

When all's said and done, I haven't had an actual vacation or time away from work since May. And it's been a very long six months. A lot has happened. I AM READY FOR VACATION.

Vacation, and travel, is excitingly stressful for me. I like for my life to be entirely in order when I leave for a long vacation - work-wise, home-wise, and packing-wise. Everything needs to be clean, everything needs to be ready to go. I need for my room to be spotless so that when I come home, I don't have to come home to a mess. I need my email inbox to be cleared, my desk clean, and my bills paid. I don't want to worry about any of it while I'm away.

And, when traveling for long periods of time, I love the preparation. Stocking up on magazines and filling up my iPod, buying sunscreen and batteries for my camera. I start a little pile in a corner of my room, and I make lists. Ooohhh, lists. I love lists.

These things also help relieve some of the excited tension of getting ready for a trip. They are like rituals, little stepping stones that mark the path towards the day you get to leave, and they are also deeply comforting. By the time I'm settling into my first glass of wine and movie aboard a flight, I know that everything has been taken care of, and that all I have to do for the next few (or 19) hours is relax.


I don't normally put much stock in weather reports regarding hurricanes, mostly because there's about a 157% margin of error. And this storm is no different, except for the fact that I am tired, stressed out, and ready to go visit The Gentleman overseas so badly that I can't bear the idea of something (ANYTHING, MOTHER NATURE) coming along and f-ing it all up.

Like, seriously.


How does that EVEN HAPPEN?

The storm is scheduled to hit somewhere between Monday and Wednesday. My flight is on Wednesday. And there's nothing I can do right now, except keep piling things to pack up in the corner of my room, and worry about how much cash to change over to durhams, and check 27 times to make sure I have my passport and international driver's license. And hope that the storm either passes by Wednesday or - better - doesn't hit at all. 

In the mean time, it's grinding my teeth and observing that my elbows (the actual elbow - not the crook, mind you) do, in fact, possess sweat glands and hope that perhaps at this time next week I will be 7,000 miles away and deeply relaxed getting a Thai massage in the Dubai mall while The Gentleman fetches me a turkish coffee and some dates. 

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Before 31 Update

Just in case you thought I was TOTALLY slacking....

I have actually been trying to keep up with my 31 Before 31 goal. And by "keeping up," I mean, "attempting books and abandoning them if they suck." Which totally counts.

First off, a review of the very first endeavor of this goal: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I started jotting down some notes in a notebook, because my intention was to  - 

-Oh hang on, I'm watching Twilight: New Moon and it's the scene where Edward takes his shirt off to sparkle in the Italian city....he's so glittery....

-and we're back. So, my notes were all intellectual and crap, with things like 

"Writing style doesn't flow, not easy to follow"

and then quickly devolved into chicken scratches about the seemingly-endless sermons preached in the book. Kindle tells me I completed 21% of this masterpiece, and I call that 20% too much. 

To be fair, I've heard multiple times that I should read Dubliners instead. So I may do that. But part of this list was making myself a promise that if I absolutely could not get through a book, I was free to abandon it as long as I could make a solid case for why I didn't like it. And my solid case for the Artist is that it was just plain arduous to get through, and for every five pages I read, there might be one spot of prose that really stood out. All in all, I don't feel bad for quitting it.

Next on my list is Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Which is a spectacular book but, well, rather horrifying. It's something I can really only read in broad daylight, and certainly not while eating anything. It's sickening both because it describes a lot of death and destruction and, more importantly, it shows such a horrible side of humanity. 
I'm only about 25% of the way through it (thanks, Kindle!) and I do intend to finish it, but I will say that I'm not enamored with the prose. I just don't love the frame narrative style, especially since the whole thing is basically just one long monologue. I feel like I might like it better if I had a solid five hours to read the whole thing through, but I don't, and so it's sort of like walking in and out of a conversation where you have to interrupt the speaker to say "Wait, go back like three pages, I forgot what you were talking about."

Since I've found I can't just pick up and read Conrad whenever I want a literary fix, I went ahead and started Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Oh man, this is what I am talking about. I loved it from the start because I like his writing style so much more than Joyce or Conrad. I'm only a few chapters in, and I like it already. I especially enjoy that it's philosophy, but wrapped in a prose that's easy to follow and not at all preachy.

So, there you go. I AM ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHING THINGS. Now, about that book I'm supposed to write....


Oh em gee...

So, last weekend was Legs's wedding. It was pretty spectacular and awesome, not to mention delicious. I missed The Gentleman as my date (he had to fly back to the land of sand the morning prior), but I took The Gentleman's Roommate - excuse me - KEYS. His name is Keys because I refused to call him by his preferred name (Boo Boo Kitty Expletive) and also because he once wandered into a bar trying to find me, because I had his keys (long story) and walked right up to Mrs. Spaz and yelled "KEYS?!" in an attempt to articulate his need. 

Keys. Heh. He's gonna hate it. That makes me so happy.

Anyway, so Keys and I had a grand old time. He wasn't specifically my date, per say, since his roommate is the bride's brother, but he was excellent nonetheless. I never had an empty drink, he carefully put my shoes under my chair when I decided I didn't need them anymore, and he let me use his jacket when my makeup started melting off my face from too much party-girl dancing.

Anyhoodle, so I had a nice little talk with Jenn  about blog layouts and realized that mine is...rather horrible. Which is hilarious, because in real career life I am responsible for the social media presence of a nonprofit. But I think that's the adage, no? A social media strategist's own profiles are never shod....or...something.

No, but seriously. I spend a good part of the day staring at InDesign and cleaning up design and then I come home, and this site just serves as the little box on the page for my cathartic word vomit. I'm a person who loves beautiful things and seeks stylized versions of everything, but when it comes to my own blog, I'm just plain lazy.

So, I'm contemplating a move from Blogger to another platform...Weebly, perhaps. I've worked with Wordpress and I'm not totally enamored, but I think I just haven't spent enough time exploring all the options. Either way, I think it might be time to move away from a blog-format to actually building my own damn website and hosting it off of something other than Blogger.

I can already see where this is headed: it's going right down the glorious road of I'M GONNA WRITE A BOOK! world of long-term projects.

Anyhoodle...any of my blog friends have any input on how to make a text-heavy site visually appealing? Sans vs. serif? Black text on white or vice versa? What'choo guys wanna see? You just let me know.

Also - 8 days until Abu Dhabi. Holy crap - that's less than 10. And also awesome.

Monday, October 15, 2012


There is one totally awesome part about being in an EXTREME LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP. I mean, aside from all the traveling and adventures to be had.

The surprise visit.

The Gentleman arrived yesterday morning, just as I was attempting to stretch 13.1 miles of hills out of my legs from Saturday's victory run (no PR on my half-marathon time, but I didn't puke this time which is what my friend Stupid refers to as a "net positive"). It wasn't technically a total surprise - I'd known about it for about 48 hours - but it was definitely last-minute, and definitely lovely.

The Gentleman had to fly home, last-minute, for business reasons but it means that we have a delightful little week-long interlude before my vacation out to Abu Dhabi at the end of the month. We celebrated his homecoming by doing two things he can't do in the Middle East - going to brunch and watching football all afternoon.

Lee had warned me that in a long-distance relationship, the first thirty minutes of seeing one another after a long period of time are weird. He was right - except not in the way that I thought. Our first thirty minutes together were weird only because it was as though he had never been gone. We met on a street corner outside of his hotel after his car service dropped him off, had an epic hug, and then headed off to brunch like we would on any other Sunday. Everything about The Gentleman being right next to me, here in Baltimore, felt normal. There was a brief moment of "why is this stranger is holding my hand" but it wasn't a stranger, it was my boyfriend and we were walking in step with one another as though we had been parted for five minutes and not three months.

"Is that weird?" I asked The Gentleman. 

"No, I think that's how it's supposed to be, right?" he said.

"I guess so? I don't know, I've never done this before. Oh well, let's get more beers."

We have excellent communication skills.

And so, very randomly, I found myself lying on the couch with my feet in The Gentleman's lap, as we drank pumpkin beer and watched Family Guy on a Sunday night. You know, as though he hadn't moved 7,000 miles away. He's just back for a visit, and I am just happy, and that's how it's supposed to be.

Oh, and he brought me a delightful bottle of Dom Perignon and a box of dates, which are my favorite Middle Eastern treat. He knows the way to my heart is via duty-free liquor.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oh Right, That Race Thing....

I will tell you, when it comes down to running your third half marathon, you get pret-ty damn lazy. 

Oh right - I guess I'm running a half-marathon tomorrow. Oops.

That's not to say I haven't been training, because I have. Just possibly not as rigorously as I have in the past. And also, I've been incorporating some new workout routines, just to shake things up a bit.

For the past six months or so, I've been doing a HIIT class at my gym once a week. HIT is "High Intensity Interval Training," and it's 45 minutes of very fast-paced strength and cardio exercises. It's kinda sorta like all those P90x programs that are floating around, and it's totally fun and even thought I've been doing it for awhile, I still almost always experience some sort of soreness the next day. 

Also, thanks to the power of Groupon and much prodding from my friend, I purchased some bikram yoga passes. I've always liked yoga, and have been wanting to try bikram, but I just needed someone to motivate me to do it. So I tried it, and it's pretty fantastic. I sweat A LOT when I run (which, I learned from my former trainer/workout buddy over at ithinkillmakeit is actually a sign of fitness), but I simply had no idea how much you could possibly sweat in a bikram yoga class. I found it difficult to hold some of the poses because I kept slipping against my own sweaty skin. So gross. And so awesome. 

(We celebrated my first yoga class with some delicious Mediterranean food and frozen yogurt. This was necessary.)

So I've gotta run this half marathon tomorrow, and part of me is excited because running a race is always exciting, and part of me is kind of like "meh." Which communicates very strongly to me that perhaps I am ready to start thinking about training for a full marathon. We'll see how I feel tomorrow, though...

And I'll probably puke. I think, at this point, I should just accept the fact that some people are pukers, and that I am one of those people. I will probably pack a nice little plastic bag with my checked stuff so that I'll be prepared for the inevitable moment when I unload in front of friends and family. It's not a very fun moment.

In other news - 19 days until Abu Dhabi. That is less than 20 days, you know. This is very exciting.

Also - someone get on Lee and Hot Curry for their blatantly lazy approach to blogging. Man, someone needs to tell those guys that blogger should be posting riveting and engaging content EVERY SINGLE DAY. I mean, really. Call yourself a writer. 

While you're at it, go ahead and hit me up and say something clever like, "Hello, Pot? Yeah, this is Kettle...."

Off to eat some pasta and go to bed early so I can lie awake and stress about getting to the race on time tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How To Pass The Time

28 days, oh boy!

I just said "oh boy."


So, there are many ways to keep yourself occupied if you are trying to pass the time. "Hoarders" is an excellent choice, but only for a little while. 

Watching too much "Hoarders" can actually lead to feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia.

I know this to be a fact from personal experience.

So, there are many productive things you can do to pass the time. You can train for a half marathon. (Almost done.) You can go back to school to take a class. (Just started that this week.) You can buy lots of Groupons, like bikram yoga classes and horseback riding (done and done - and now I'm poor.) 

Here are some other activities you can do:

You can go to the Baltimore Book Festival. They have lots of books and things about Witchcraft and Lhasa Apsos. As you can see.

They also sell things like Bloody Marys. As you can see.

Another fun way to pass the time is to invest in a craft. Crafts are usually the most fun if you pair them with other activities, like wine and/or beer drinking and watching all of the "Twilight" movies. My buddy Jenn from over at The Cheap Luxury is working with me on a t-shirt quilt so I can finally do something with all of those t-shirts I never wear but can't bear to throw out. She is very crafty. Also, you should check out her blog because she's hilarious and does things with me like watch "Twilight" and drink and make things.

Soooooooooooooo also in upcoming events are some parties, a wedding, probably some more Sunday Funday crafts. 

Oh yeah, and my third half marathon. That too. I keep forgetting about that damn thing. That's probably bad, right?

But, yes, 28 days! That's like...a stint in rehab! Bad comparison?


Monday, October 1, 2012

30 Days....

...until I head out to Abu Dhabi to see my boyfriend for 10 days.

That's 720 hours.

43,200 minutes.

14.5 hours of flying.

But hey...who's counting, right?