TV and Movies and Stand-Up and Musicals!

I didn’t realize how many shows I’m watching that are on on Thursday nights! Since last week was the season premiere of a lot of things, I had to make some decisions. So I watched 30 Rock (awesome!) and The Office (also very good – sort of back to their old feeling again) live on Thursday. Then on Friday I got caught up with Project Runway on OnDemand, and Fringe online (fantastic! Though I could kind of do without the alternate reality – I just want to see Olivia and Peter get together once and for all!). Also on Friday, I finally got around to watching the Jay McCarroll documentary, “Eleven Minutes.” It was great. He is so funny! And of course it was very neat to see all the work that goes into putting on a runway show, months and months of work by tons of people, just for a show that’s 11 minutes long (hence the title).

Last night, GG and I went with his brother and their friend to see Dave Attell! I have loved him since Insomniac, and his is another comedy album that almost caused GG to drive off the road when we first heard it in the car. His live act was a bit more… offensive… but he was very good! Now that he’s aged a bit, he looks sort of like a younger version of one of my graphic design professors from college, which was a bit unnerving. Also, the host and opening act were both local comedians who we kind of know from GG’s days in the Philly comedy scene (someday, he’ll be back!), so that was cool, and they were also very good. The only negative part of the show was that Dave took advantage of that loophole in the smoking laws to light up on stage (because it was part of a performance), and it was like the smoke came directly towards us. My throat and eyes got itchy, and I realized how nice it’s been these past few years that public indoor smoking has been banned. Also, I don’t know what he smokes, but it was like the smelliest cigarette ever. Oh well, it was only for a few minutes, and the rest of the night was so good.

Also, the off-Broadway musical we saw this summer, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, is now on Broadway, and here’s how you know it’s awesome: GG wants to go back to New York and see it a second time! (He didn’t even want to see Avenue Q a second time, when it came to Philly!) So hopefully we can get up there in the next couple months and catch it. In the meantime, the original cast CD was just released last week, and I’ve been listening to it non-stop since it arrived. Love love love!

Feels Like I Never Even Left

The rest of my vacation pretty much flew by. On Monday morning GG and I dropped my car off for state inspection, then we had to go to a meeting, and then we got brunch at IHOP! I have now eaten there twice in my life. It was clear that most of the customers were “regulars,” though. We were amazed how super happy and friendly the greeter was, and our waitress was also super nice. And I had a Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity meal! GG had French toast. He was worried that they might not serve it, but I told him that they had to, after all, they’re international.

On Tuesday GG had planned for us to go to this farm that comes to our farmers’ market every Saturday. He had one of their brochures that said they have apple picking in September, and sell mead year-round. I think he thought it was going to be this wonderland of apples and honey wine. It turned out that it was a very small, kind of shoddy shop with some apples and apple products, soup and dip mixes, and baked goods. They don’t have apple picking on weekdays. They did have a little side room where they sell wine and mead, using two different cash registers for the two different producers (why they can’t use one register and divvy up the money later, I don’t know). GG got some of each. Then he had to pay at a third register for his apple cider and apple sauce. Then we went to The Saddest Mall In The World, which was nearby, but actually it seems to have improved in the 10 or so years since either of us was last there (still sad though). And we got lunch and came home. We went out for a late-ish dinner, using another of the many gift cards we’ve been saving up – I think this vacation time was really just an excuse to use up some gift cards and coupons.

Wednesday was my usual work-from-home day, plus we were getting a new patio door installed so I had to stay home anyway. The new door is beautiful and was much-needed. We also had a new side entry door put on the garage (the old one exploded sometime last year – literally). Then I went to band practice… I dislike a couple of the pieces we’re playing this season, but mostly I’m really excited about things, so that’s a good sign. Now I just have to stop being lazy about it and design our concert poster!

Today I was back in the office for the first time in almost a week and it felt like I’d never even left. I am going totally nuts with all these meetings (most of them unnecessary), and I barely have time to get my actual work done. I’ve even delegated some of the more administrative type tasks that I do – which was actually really helpful, but the person I delegated them to is leaving the company in a couple weeks, so she can’t help me for long.

Also! The Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson CD came out on Tuesday and my pre-ordered copy arrived today and I’ve listened to it like five times already tonight and it’s awesome!

My Weekend is Only Half Over

GG and I are taking Monday and Tuesday of this week off (we were going to go away on vacation, but now we’re just going to stay home and spend some time getting things done and being together). So currently we’re just at the midpoint of the weekend.

I had a busy day at work on Friday, then ended up napping most of my evening away – I thought a quick nap would energize me, but ended up sleeping way longer than planned and just got more tired, so that was a pretty wasted night.

On Saturday GG and I got up early and did some errands, then ended up having lunch at one of our favorite restaurants because I had a gift card. We go there all the time, take people there when they come to visit, etc. But I don’t think we’ll be going back there because… as we sat waiting for our food to arrive, GG drew my attention to the fact that there was a cockroach drinking the condensation at the base of his glass! It was weird that it was just sitting out in the light (under a little lamp on the table, even). I think maybe it crawled out from the rolled up napkin his silverware was in. Or it could have come from the booth seat. GG used a paper appetizer napkin to catch it – it made a run for it across the table, but I guess he’d stunned it enough that he was able to grab it again and throw it out. We didn’t tell anybody there, but I don’t think we’ll be back. Too bad.

Today was spent doing housework, then helping to move some stuff, then we had an early dinner and came home to hang out on the sofa. I’m watching the premiere of Boardwalk Empire right now. It’s pretty good, but I don’t know if I’ll remember to watch it every week – thank goodness for OnDemand! If nothing else, it’s visually awesome.

“Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart

“Super Sad… Thing is a dystopian novel about the near future, and the scary thing is it’s already happening.” – Edmund White

This quote, from the SSTLS trailer, pretty much sums up what I thought the entire time I was reading this book. Set in the near future (some reviews estimated about 20 years from now, though I think it could be sooner than that), everyone is obsessed with their electronic devices, rankings, credit score, clothing (or lack thereof, as is the style for young people), and health. People have given up interacting with each other (and reading) in favor of picking up a constant stream of data that everyone broadcasts. Meanwhile, America, run by the Bipartisans, is going to heck and our foreign creditors are coming to foreclose on their investment. Also, we’re fighting an unwinnable war in Venezuela and the LNWIs (low net worth individuals, one of many acronyms) and returning National Guard members are losing their homes and setting up camp in parks. So it’s a great time to be an American. JBF.

So the scariest thing is, just about everything that happens is totally plausible and it would not surprise me if at least parts of this really came to pass.

In the midst of all this, middle-aged Lenny meets young, tiny, perfect Eunice, who ends up moving in with him in his NYC apartment so she can be close (but not too close) to her family in New Jersey. The story is told in alternating chapters by Lenny’s diary and Eunice’s GlobalTeens (like Facebook) messages with her family and friends. The entire novel only spans a few months, during which time Lenny and Eunice meet, Eunice slowly falls in love with Lenny (who was already completely infatuated with her), and they grow apart, their own break-up mimicking and coinciding with The Rupture, the event that marks the end of the USA as we know it.

I loved this book. It was very depressing, though – both for the love story (which really is super sad) and for the grim yet realistic vision of the future. Sometimes I wanted to just shake the characters though! I mean, Lenny, look at the world around you! I can tell what’s going on just by reading between the lines in your diary, why are you so blind? And Eunice, why are you so fickle and mean? I thought you were finally coming around to poor Lenny, but in the end you broke his heart and then you broke the heart of the next guy, and probably the next guy too.

There are not many books I feel I need to own – I figure, you’ve already read it, why do you need to keep it hanging around? Also, in the future, “bound, printed, nonstreaming media artifacts” are seen as smelly and gross. But I could see myself owning a copy of this book, so I think that is a pretty high compliment coming from me. I just finished it and I actually kind of want to read it again!

My Birthday Weekend, Busy at Work

You guys, I was old before but now I am old. My 20s are really almost over now. Also, this is a weird year because I am now the same age my mom was when she had me. (And I always kind of felt like she was older than a lot of other moms .. even though women are having kids later and later now .. oh and also I don’t want kids.)

Anyway, GG and I were having a stressful week, and then he said some friend of his was having a birthday party on Saturday and he wanted to go, and I was like, “Ahem, it’s also my birthday this weekend, so I hope that doesn’t interfere with whatever surprise you have planned for me.” So he didn’t go :o) I said I just wanted to go out for dinner, and listed a few restaurants I’d like to go to. I’d been to a couple of them recently, yes, but they were all good and I would have been happy with any of them. However, he chose Tastebuds because it had been a while since we’d been there and it was nice to get away from home a bit (even just 45 minutes away). I thought maybe he’d blindfold me and drive around for a while to get me disoriented, and then it would be a total surprise where we went, but he just told me that morning. Oh well, it was still nice!

We took food pictures but they’re on GG’s camera so it might be a while until I get them. I had the most amazing sweet corn flan appetizer and huge homemade gnocchi with a delicious parmesan sauce, and GG had lamb meatballs with Moroccan spices (he’d apparently been really excited to order those) and a beef tenderloin with a really neat espresso sauce. Then for dessert he had a coffee caramel flan-type thing, and I had this awesome blueberry crumble with ginger that was fantastic but I needed a little bit of help finishing it :o) After dinner we walked down to the bookstore to visit our favorite shop cat, Butter! He was sleeping under the greeting card racks, but rolled over and let me scratch his tummy. Then we kind of strolled around on our way back to the car. It was a very nice evening out!

Finally, after 18 months with pretty much nothing to do at work, I’m suddenly crazy busy! Like, meetings on top of meetings, traveling every few weeks, getting assigned special projects, and that’s in addition to doing my regular work that I still have to keep up with. My counterpart from another group in the department is going on secondment at the end of this month for a year, and he’s been doing all the (very involved/complex) web site stuff, so I pretty much have to absorb everything he knows – even though I warned him, “I will be calling you.” Luckily his secondment is still in the same location, it’s not like he’s moving to another country or anything. And a couple more people moved out of our little annex area, so it’s just me and one other woman, and she’s done in a few weeks, so I will literally be sitting all by myself. I really hope a desk opens up soon with the rest of my new (old) department!

I Love Philadelphia

We have some visitors from out of state at work this week, so they put together goodie bags for everyone. They are adorable! Brochures and postcards for local attractions like the outlets, zoo, Longwood Gardens, and Valley Forge park; Tastykake krimpets and tandy cakes; Herr’s chips; Hershey’s Kisses and Twizzlers; Wawa water bottles; mini Liberty Bells; and Slinkies (which I just learned are the official state toy of PA).

My birthday seriously sneaked up on me this year – I thought I had another week! So it’s going to fall on a pretty busy weekend. But I think GG will take me out to dinner somewhere nice.

Speaking of dinner… this was awkward… Last night we had a dinner for work with those people who are visiting. There’s also a woman who is joining the group in a couple weeks, but she’s attending the meeting this week and came to dinner too. So she doesn’t know anyone or what our backgrounds are. She was sitting next to me, and at one point in a lull in the converstaion, she turned to me and asked, “Do you have any kids?” Nope, just the cats. Then she turns to my friend H, sitting on my other side, and asked her the same question. Awkward, H has been trying for a while but hasn’t had any good news yet. Then she moves on to J, sitting across from me. Really awkward, J had a miscarriage and some other medical issues earlier this year. I wanted to say something like, “Look, I’m the only person here who doesn’t have kids and doesn’t want them. Everyone else either has them or is working on it. Now please stop asking everybody.”

Pants, pants, pants!

This was the Labor Day of pants, I guess. GG and I went to Target early this morning because there were a couple things I needed to pick up (preferably before any crowds descended), and while there I tried on some Mossimo jeggings, which had been suggested to me. Guess what – they actually fit really nicely! They’re in junior sizes, so the ones that are roughly equivalent to my regular misses size fit surprisingly well, but I sized up anyway because I was afraid of shrinkage when washing, and also it was a little tricky to peel off the properly sized ones. I really didn’t want to succumb to jeggings, but I think they will be a much more comfortable alternative to the skinny jeans + boots I tried wearing last winter. I’m actually very impressed with them – they have a working button but no zipper, they really feel like jeans, the front pockets are fake but the back pockets work (I think?).

For lunch we went to a restaurant at the mall, and then we killed time/burned calories by walking around afterward. I happened into the Gap, where I tried on a pair of their Real Straight 1969 jeans (I’ve wanted something other than bootcut for a while), and some of the Perfect Trousers from their new Premium Pants collection. Both fit well, but I left them in the dressing room because I refused to pay full price for them and figured I’d come back when they had a sale or something. Well guess what – they were on sale for Labor Day! Like, half off! So I went back, got them, and now have new pants.

Buying new clothes on holiday weekends kind of makes it more bearable to go back to work afterward… And now I’m really excited for it to get cool enough to realistically wear boots again!

Catching Up

I need to catch up with the blog! I was away for most of this week, and then when I got home I was so busy, plus our internet was down at home until this morning. So here we go!

Sunday night through Wednesday night I was on yet another business trip in New England. For a trip that went so well, a lot of little things went wrong (or were just inconveniences). For example, my train ticket was just “reserved” and hadn’t actually been purchased, and even though I’d been told I could use the electronic kiosk to finish the transaction, I apparently couldn’t. So I had to go wait in line and get tickets from a human. And then the train was packed! I didn’t realize Sunday nights were so popular! And I was stuck sitting near this mom with two little kids who wouldn’t shut up.

Every time I go up there it’s pretty interesting. Driving to work at home is so boring – it’s mostly highway, and then you get off the highway and there’s the office. Up there, the office (both offices where I was, actually) is sort of in the middle of town, and you get to drive through cute historic neighborhoods and stuff. Now, I imagine the traffic of thousands of people driving through little neighborhoods is not great, but the place is adorable. Also, they have awesome views out their office windows – even the cubicles!

I was actually at the office where the other half of my department is located on Monday, and it was nice to meet with people in person, meet co-workers I hadn’t met yet, and just be “present.” I went out to dinner on Monday with a member of my new group and another co-worker from PA who came up that night. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday my PA co-worker and I were at another office a few miles away for a two-day class. The class was interesting, but sort of left us depressed – it was about a methodology for implementing successful changes, but in the positions we’re in, we’d never have the authority to do the types of things they prescribe (e.g. assembling a team of the right people – since when do we get to put together our own teams?!).

The train ride home was nice, and it goes much faster when you’re not traveling by yourself – my co-worker came back home with me. For the first time I’ve ever experienced, our Amtrak train arrived at it’s destination on time! So I got home around 10:30 on Wednesday night.

Thursday I worked from home, cleaned, did laundry, and caught up on stuff around the house. Friday I went to my office for the first time all week. We went out to lunch to a new restaurant called Zoup!, which specializes in soup – they have 100 different types, 12 per day. They also have salads and sandwiches. My meal was okay, but I don’t think this place will make it on my list of top favorite restaurants. They’re also opening an Elevation Burger in the same shopping center, I’m excited to try that when it’s open! Friday night I called my mom to see if she wanted to get dinner, and she’d already eaten, but she told me she was meeting my brother and his friend to buy him a new computer (an early Christmas present, since his laptop just melted!), so I met up with them and then we had dinner after that. His friend was a vegetarian who wanted to go back to eating meat, so we went out for burgers!

On Saturday, GG and I had a nice day together. We went to the Farmers’ Market in the morning, where we ran into some friends and stocked up on fruits and veggies for the week (there was pretty much no food in the house since I’d been gone for most of the week). We spent the afternoon relaxing on the couch, then went out for dinner and to see Dinner for Schmucks. The movie was cute! Pretty funny throughout, and generally better than I’d expected. The cast was great! Loved Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Ron Livingston, Kristen Schaal, Nick Kroll, Jemaine Clement…

Today we went to GG’s friend’s mom’s house for a Labor Day party. It was catered! It was actually mostly their family and a few of their other mutual friends. It was fun! The main attraction was that they rented a PA system for GG to entertain everyone with stand-up comedy. I don’t think he’s ever done more than a 10-minute set, but today he went through every joke he had and did at least half an hour. I recorded him. 90% of his jokes are really offensive – the other 10% are stupid puns :o) But they actually wanted him to blast the offensive humor over the PA because their neighbors play loud music all the time.

Not sure what I’ll be doing on actual Labor Day, but it’s nice to have a bonus day off before another busy week! (The fun of being in two departments now – careful what you wish for when you wish for a job, I guess!)