Wednesday, December 29, 2010

De Cruise: Days Tres and Cuarto, OR Sunshine, Canadians, and Muchachos!, OR the Day of the Rabbit (and possibly the Dog)

Alright. Let me tell you about how I was going leave at least two days between various Cruise installments. Ya know, keep you coming back for more over a two week stretch which would make me look more popular than I am. But as is true with most things I try and space out and wait patiently, I get impatient and do what I want anyway. Plus, I'm bored.

SO! Good news! You get to hear about the second leg of De Cruise a la Cabo Saint Lucas. Aye ya ya ya ya ya ya! That's my authentic Spanish call - clearly.

If you recall from our last episode, as the weather was blustery and not conducive to sun-deck lounging the first two days, I had to cling to three occurrences that redeemed the stubborn sun from hiding its face: 1. The Polar Bear, 2. The Spartan, and 3. The Dinner(s) i.e. ethereal breadbaskets of rainbows and unicorns. Num. The below picture illustrates our commendable attempt to enjoy some "on-deck- lounging-rain-or-shine-dammit" time.

Commendable, no? Oh yes, that's hot chocolate steaming in that mug. Let me tell you a secret about that hot chocolate. Come closer... closer.... IT WAS FREAKING AMAZING! And on tap. While other passengers gorged themselves on buffet nasty, we three single handedly drank the ship's supply of hot chocolate... most likely. Much like unto the bread basket - the hot chocolate was a cup of happiness. Want to know something even more incredible? Prepare yourself. Your mind will blow. Ahem, that ambrosia from the Gods is non other than....
I. Kid. You. Not. Look at my eyes - does it look like I'm kidding? Didn't think so. The secret lies within the Dark Chocolate. My that sounds cryptic... and therefore sexy. This is some sexy choc-o-late. Grrrrrowel.

Meanwhile, back on the cruise boat, after we went to our morning stretch class with The Spartan, where he discussed the antics of Michael Vick "the God" of NFL football (blank stare) and the laughability of wussy American football players who freak out about a 60 yard punt while he, The Spartan, could punt a football 90 yards no sweat (enter his demonstrating his approach and kicking-the-ball-form here), we readied ourselves to disembark. I'd like you to join in the anticipation we felt as we gazed from our boat to the beautiful cult-a-sac of beach front surrounding us. Oh... and mainly I want you to recognize the LACK of jackets, hot-chocolate, and disappointment in our wind blown faces. It's not there... because it was finally 80 degrees. Hot diggity!

Eh? Right!?!?!? Contain your jealousy. I'm jealous of me right now so I don't see how you couldn't be. You're still thinking of the Spartan's perfect kicking form aren't you? Yeeeeeeah... me too. Sigh. If anyone could kick a football 90 yards... it's definitely not that guy. But I liked seeing him show us anyway ;)

The Three Themes of the Day!
1. Sunshine (more to come!)
2. Canadians and Muchachos
3. The Day of the Rabbit

Let me give you some advice. DON'T. do the cruise boat excursions. They're freakingly ridiculously overpriced. Only a dumby would sign away their inheritance for one of those excursions... and you're not a dumbey right? No! Neither were we! My brother, Seth, had worked in the Caribbean for awhile and saw ALOT of dumbeys and suckers on the "planned" excursions. "Ange," he says to me in a very serious tone before I left, "Do NOT spend money on the excursions. If you do, you're a moron." Well, far be it for me to volunteer myself as a moron - so we decided to make our own way upon reaching Cabo and see what we could do. 

And DO we DID!

See: tug boat ride on the classically named "Sex Machine", manned by Mr. Carlos, for $10, around all the little islands and outlets offered on the "cruise boat excursions" for $80... minimum. Win! If Bangkok taught me one thing - it's to negotiate - and bring your own toilet paper (seriously). And negotiate we did! Below you'll see Lovers Beach, Divorce Beach, a Canadian, and some lazy dazy seals. Love me some seals... to look at... not to wear on my feet. Save the Seals!

Enters (below): the Honorable Octavius the Solemn and Maximus the Vain. Can you tell who's who?

Lover's Beach... and Divorce Beach. Can you tell which is which? Hint: the waves would RIP YOU APART! 

Ironically, these two respective beaches were connected and merely just opposite ends of the little Island our tugboat spit us upon. Oh the metaphors. I'd also like it noted, I look in this photo. Kinda! I mean, I don't look 5'1... I look like... 5'5! No one would call THAT leg a stump! Eh? Cricket Chirp.
 Just let me have my dreams. 

I know what you're thinking, all these things are well and good: the beach, the ocean, your pasty short leg, but what about the Canadian??? Details!

Meet Lyle
He's the happy fellow to the left of Camille. Lyle is from Calgary; there with his cute happy wife, and Lyle runs triathlons and marathons. Lyle is also deliriously happy and we loved him.We chit chatted with him and his wife on our tug boat tour and a couple of times on the Cruise ship. I love meeting new people - and this guy was our favorite. Well, okay, other than the Spartan. But The Spartan was mostly eye candy and cool stories (just wait... the Lion's testicles are coming! Patience, precious), LYLE was brimming with Life! We all left more motivated after talking with him. What a guy, aye? What a guy.


(this is my favorite picture of Camille. She's a natural Muchacho, si? Si.)

And a scabrous dog! No! The one on the left... YOUR left. Psh. I"m the bag lady. Note to self - just take off the bags for pics. It does nothing for... anything.

Needless to say, our first day on shore was a success in many ways. We weren't total suckers, ate some great Mexican food, laid in the sunshine on the beach, and naturally, did a little shop, shop, shopping. Mmm... shopping. That night, we enjoyed yet another FINE dinner (TWO breadbaskets!), a visit to the Spar.. I mean the gym... for to maintain the girlish figures ;), and were greeted by this fine little creature below. 

It was the Day of the Rabbit! And it also may have been the Day of the Dog. Let me tell you how I've missed a night in there somewhere and have one more towel animal than I have nights left on the cruise. Things get all befuddled on cruises - time is taken over by carbs, grease, and delicious delectable calories. Garcon! 5000 more calories if you please! Step on it! So here's the Day of the Dog sharing with Day of the Rabbit. I just don't want you to miss out on these things... bread baskets, hot chocolate, and towel creatures. We also were in bed by 10pm, did a puzzle, caught up on Golden Girls, and took our pills. Don't tell ME I don't know how to par-tay!

Episode #3 Spoiler!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

De Cruise: Day Uno and Dos, OR the Day(s) of the Polar Bear, OR We are Spartans!!

As you may have heard, over Christmas I went on a Cruise. Oh, what’s that? You HAVE heard? How could you NOT hear my squawking about it since October? You have a point there. So, wanna know how it was? Might as well. You’ve got nothing better to do right? Settle in.

It. Was. Awesome.

I’ll be honest. I was skeptical about cruises as they seemed to me merely “Vegas-afloat.” And I’m not a big Vegas fan. If I never went to Vegas again for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t feel deprived in any way. I guess as a non-drinker, non gambler (more because of my inherent bad luck then any sort of conviction), struggling young professional/student status (means I can’t (shouldn’t)shop the shops), and having a natural inclination to be in bed with a book, pills taken, and slippers snugly fitted by 10:30pm… well… clearly I have more in common with the Goldon Girls than Vegas. Whipper-snappers the lot of them! So back to cruises begin Vegas-afloat. You’ve got a lot of alcohol and alcohol consumption; which produces drunks (which produces entertainment ;)). You’ve got chintzy shows, various Casinoing areas, buffets, buffets, buffets, and over-priced everything. A little Vegas-ish, right? And honestly, the “cruise crowd” as I will heretofore refer to my fellow-cruisians as, is reminiscent of the type of folks who tend to surface in Las Vegas; minus the young partying crowd. Turns out this cruises demographic focus was old folks, middle-old folks, children (guess they don’t count as much towards the Vegas demographic likeness), and families. Rarely did I spot a 20 something chillaxin on deck unless they were attached to a significant other or parents. Guess that’s how these Cruises roll… er sail… er… yes.

That said!

Vegas style or no, I had me a fantastic time on my cruise via the illustrious ship, the Carnival Spirit, through the Mexican Riviera. We stopped in Cabo Saint Lucas, La Paz, and Mazatlan. I’ve never been to Mexico and I feel these three tourist stops gave me a little nugget of what Mexico is all about! Sans drug-wars, government break downs, and all that sort of thing. Alright alright, probably not a “true” Mexican experience – but I tell you the food was true Mexican and THAT, amigos, is all I needed.

Uno/Dos Day at sea… OR… the Day(s) of the Polar Bear... OR... We are Spartans!

Our first day at sea was cold and boring much like our second day at sea. Right?! Darnit! Alright, as for the first day, we were luckily still riding the Cruise-euphoria-wave which helped the first blustery day – but after touring the boat, gagging down a buffet lunch (honestly, buffets freak me out. All that food sizzling under iridescent lights… their preservatives glinting off the unsuspecting slathering faces hungry passangers… shudder), working out in the gym (twice), sauna then steam room then sauna again and then get up and repeat the second day at sea – I got bored. It was the weather. Truly. We couldn’t go outside and enjoy reading our novels under the warmth of a non-winter sun (thus the point of cruising over Christmas) or general lounging about – slipping in and out of a sun-induced stupor. Thus, we had to rely on our own faculties for entertainment and having all come from an 8 hour a day job, school, the general hustle and bustle of life, Internet connections and DVR’s, it was hard to fathom doing “nothing.” Define nothing, would you? What IS doing nothing? Are we doing it now? Or are we “not” doing it now to be more to the point? Nothing’s hard to cope with sometimes. Then, sometimes it’s not. Cause we got used to “nothing” fast ;)

There were 3 redeeming occurrences that first and second blustery day, however. They are as follows:

1. The Spartan

2. The Dinners

3. The Polar Bear

First, I’d like to tell you about The Spartan. The Spartan was one of the trainers in the onboard “gym” and the moment I saw him I claimed him as mine for the next 7 days. We play a little game, my friends and I, picking individuals to be on “our team” if we find them appealing (i.e. HOT!!). You’ve got to have your wits about you in this game or your friends may hand-pick all the good’uns and leave you choosing between the one legged Chiwahwah or the cock-eyed greasy bar tender wearing a “Kiss the Cook” apron over his sweat-stained Cabana t-shirt. See what I mean? Serious stuff. Well I selected the Spartan to be on my team since I spotted him FIRST! Dammit! And he was HOT and from South Africa and personally trained ;) i.e. rippled (no I meant rippled… seemed less objectifying than ripped… somehow), and also from South Africa. Num num. I call him the Spartan since when we first laid eyes on this manly specimen, he was trying to sucker some googley eyed ladies into signing up for a $120 “Train like the guys in 300” session during the cruise. Though I wanted so much to be one of those suckers, we instead took the schedule outlining the free classes such as “morning stretching” and “Abs”, making mental note not to skip a single session he led. The Spartan was redeemable occurrence #1 on that blustery first/second day and will make many a referential appearance throughout the cruising experience along with such things as lion testicles, toxins, and 90 yard field goals. Stay tuned.

Second reedeming occurence(s), dinner. Dinner was delicious every single night. Can I explain to you the menus on Cruises? Arrayed with elegance and deliciousness. That’s what they are. And you can have as many of anything as you damn well want. You’ve paid your dues! You deserve a New York Steak, New Zealand Lamb, Prime Rib, Pastas, shrimps, chocolate cakes, sherbets, stuffed mushrooms, soups, salads, the skie’s the limit, and even then I’m sure the food Gods negotiate! The Diet Coke’s were $2.24 though. Sheesh. There was an option of buying an “unlimited soda pass” for $7 and you receive a red refill container labeled “I drink soda like a fat American whose life goal is to suffer from Type 2 Diabetes by age 30!” strewn across the front. I opted to pass on that little deal because of my pride and just paid the $2 for my 4-5 Diet Cokes I had throughout the duration of the cruise. Not bad right? Well that’s because 3 of the other Diet Cokes I had were off shore and paid for in pesos ;) Oh snap! At any rate, diner those nights and every night after that was delectable, divine, delicious, desirable, and any other “d” word you can think of that describes “damn good.” And dear friends, guess what my favorite part of each meal just happened to be? The desserts? Negative – too easy. The massive array of food selection? Close, but no. It was the bread basket. I dreamt of that bread basket, glistening with hot rolls and slices of French bread, slathered with swirly butter and the Spartan, every night before going to bed and then thought about it all day long; “I can’t wait until I can have some bread… ” I’d think to myself while walking the market streets in Mazatlan or squeezing into my swim suit in Cabo, “Grahhhhhhh…” (i.e. drool). We also got to dress up for this dinner in our “formal wear” the second evening which was enjoyable. I like dressing up and going out to eat with friends. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do: good food, good friends, good times. That’s my motto!

Here are Heidi and Camille in a Food Coma - hereafter - Foma.

Third! I find joy in the simple things. You may have noticed this already. I mean of all the delectable things I could choose to love each night at dinner – and I choose the bread basket. But the below illustrates the joy that these small things bring me. The first night, after we had eaten ourselves silly, we staggered back to our little closet of a cabin. And lo… not only did I find that I did NOT have to sleep on the little couch (there were only two legit beds – I’m a giving person like that) but instead on a miracle bunk bed that had appeared, hanging from the ceiling, but there were two little buddies there to greet us!

Here's me discovering my magical bunk bed

And that, friends, was Day Uno and Dos of the Cruise OR, The Day(s) of the Polar Bear, OR We are Spartans!

I slept fat and happy that second night, anticipating our morning stretch class with The Spartan, reliving eating roll after roll every night for the next 5 days, and thinking of finally reaching Cabo Saint Lucas, with its sunny beaches and Mexican food. We had officially become Crusians!

*Spoiler Below*

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lists Lists Lists! Here are TWO!

Last Wednesday I finished my 4th (FOURTH! Ahahahahahahhhhh HAW!) semester of Graduate school. Oh thank you, thank you. I didn't expect applause! Bow, wave, bow. Anyway... I just finished up my 4th semester of grad school last Wednesday and already I've enjoyed the freedom and peace of mind that comes with not having to worry about what I have to read each week, what papers are due, what I should start on, what social gatherings I have to skip because I'm "responsible", and the now open evenings I have just awaiting me to attend the gym. Not to mention I've actually noticed an increase in physical energy because I'm no longer draining my mental faculties first, all day at work, and then all night at school. It wears on a person! Wears on them real good.

 Exhibit A: I sprouted two... TWO... grey hairs this semester. I ceremoniously had my hairdresser pluck them out. She stroked my hand and offered me a frosty Diet Coke as I lamented I was too young to have "stress greys" and school is taking years off my life and my looks!! Take my life, school! But leave the hair alone!! It's even started to effect my eye sight! Squinting at pages and pages of text or writing for hours on a computer. I'm always having to "zoom" my screen these days so I can read without squinting (see: pre-crows feet) And lets not even get started on my fear of "secretary butt!" YOU know what I mean. I have this fear that if I sit all day everyday (which I do - see: desk job) and all night, , (which I do - see: 3 hour classes 2-3 times a week) and all weekend, (which I do - see: library/studying) my butt will gradually flatten and widen until no amount of lunges, stair climbers, or Jillian Michaels videos will ever correct the width of such an unsightly load. The sacrifices I make for education. Alas!

That said...

I'd like to share with you a list. I know! Lists! I love lists! You love lists! Without lists - I'm not sure I could maintain any semblance of sanity or organization. THIS list is particularly great because it acknowledges all the things I WILL do once I DON'T have school. I've already experienced some of these miraculous things, such as: reading for fun (right?!?!) and not feeling guilty about shopping all day on Saturday when I've got a pile of texts to read and a paper to start. These feelings are priceless gems I will never take for granted again.

So without further ado - I present!


1. Read for pleasure (oh the possibilities! The joy! The rapture!)
2. Write for pleasure. (Then you can say you knew me when)
3. Workout more (I will! I will! Perhaps even take a class! Ooo... cycling? Zumba? The sky's the limit!)
4. Cook more
5. Look into "fun" classes like sewing or Beginning Spanish or "how to write the next great American novel"
6. Get paid more (thank you Masters degree... you better come through)
7. Have no guilt doing social things on weeknights... weekends... pretty much anytime I should be doing homework and am not. No more lingering finger-wagging school nanny in the back of my mind! Away with you school-nanny! Away!
8. Travel more - because I'll be getting paid more
9. Shop more (see afore mentioned getting paid more)
10. Adjunct. As in adjunct professoring. I'd like to do that one night a week. Keep the academic juices flowing. But I'd like to be the one demanding the work rather than having to do it. Shore, professoring comes with a different kind of "school work" but I'll get PAID for that rather than paying out thousands to work my brains to pulp. You see how that's better? It is better.

And that is my list. Not bad, right? I think it's pretty excellent. And its really the only thing that's going to keep me going through 2 more... TWO more semesters of grad school. Onward! To the victory!

I just thought of another list.

 I was talking (gchatting - if you MUST know) to my old roomie and long time chum Nikelle, and we were naming celebrities that should just disappear. And really, we asked ourselves, why HAVEN'T they already? They just cling to flaxen cords of what once was and will never be again: their celebrityhood. So here's a list of celebs who should just disappear... forever.

1. Brooke Shields
Your time is over Brooke Shields. Shore you were awesome for awhile... a time when I was more concerned with My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake than with eyebrows so perhaps that just makes me young and naive rather than an excellent judge of washed up celebs. But really, you were done a decade ago. Your most current spotlight includes the brief stint between you and that loony tune Tom Crusie when he mocked your use of anti-depressants as weak and pathetic - but really - that was your last real go at celebrity continuity. You and your 80's brows need to accept you are no longer the Brook Shields of 1992, 82, or 79. Even Calvin Klein has moved on... and so should you.

2. Kiersten Dunst
Mainly because I can't stand her. You want to know the secret to her basically decent career? An excellent agent strategically selecting her movie roles. Seriously. She (i.e. the agent) chooses good roles and she appears in them. That's the secret to the Dunst empire. As for me, after Jumanji and Little Women I was over her. Though, I guess I didn't MIND her in Mona Lisa Smile only because I could openly hate her as the character everyone hates. Today though, she can disappear and I'd be happier for it.

3. Corey Feldman
Am I right? Listen, we all liked Lost Boys, adore Goonies, and will never forget Stand By Me. But Corey, pal, times up. You're done. Sean Astin was the only one to make it out of Gooonies with a legit career (though post-LOTR roles have now faded over time - I still like him). I've seen Mr. Feldman crop up in such "strait to video" favorites as Lost Boys 2 and some stints in a few reality shows. It's mainly embarrassing. Chunk went on to become a successful lawyer and a decent looking chap. Follow his lead Corey and perhaps look into a more "civilian" career. 

4. Sarah Palin
Enough said.

5. Kate Gosselin

Listen Kate. I'll admit I was all about your drama with Jon when it all went down. The scandal! The divorce! The rumored affairs! The back-biting psychotic rampage of it all! I'd become a tabloid grocery line reader. Couldn't get enough of the Jon and Kate drama. Also, I was a big fan of Jon and Kate Plus 8 mostly because you verbally abused your sad-turned-super-tool husband consistently (cheers to American television!) but also because I was amazed at your organization and ability to care for 8 super adorable little ones. But ya know... the hype died... other drama took over such as Lindsey Lohans umpteenth missed court date and Jake The Bachelor's (circa 2009) choosing that hussy Vienna over Ally. With such riveting stories as these, Kate Gosselin became the monster of yester-year. I still see you attempting to claim some sort of legitimacy on Entertainment Tonight (I recongize the irony in that statement) or your new TLC show (soon to be flop) Kate Plus 8, and really, I think it's time for you to go quietly into the night. Disappear. Forever.

6. Brett Favre
He's old and we're over it. Wuss.

So those are some lists I've created. Do you have lists? Do you "do" lists? Well if you don't, then I will judge you to be unorganized and fickle. If you do, I'd like to know about them! Tell me of your lists! We can be list buddies. Or tell me about some celebs you wish would just disappear. There are so many out there to choose from.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's raining men... and some womens

If you really think of that phrase literally, it can be rather graphic. Right? aaaaaAHAHAHAHHHAH Ker SPLAT! Sick... did you see how that? A man just fell from the sky and hit the pavement right in front of us! OH! There's another! And another! It's raining men!

Luckily, we are using this phrase metaphorically. Makes you appreciate "the metaphor" a little more I expect. Honestly, I've never in my life experienced such a thing - literally or metaphorically. It rarely even sprinkles men in my neck of the dating woods. I am the Death Valley of men precipitation. However, there are a few men I wouldn't mind raining down upon me... even in the literal sense... because that would be sort of morbidly cool. There are a lot of reasons why I choose the men below - and not all them have to do with making out. Though... I wouldn't mind that either ;)

Drum Roll....

Clinton Kelly. Right? Stylish, hilarious, loooove. I'm sure we'd be the greatest of friends and who doesn't need a shopping buddy to honestly tell you "wow... you look like a packaged sausage... take that mess off!" He'd be a true friend like that. And I need me a true, hilarious, shopping, man-friend like that. Plus there wouldn't be any "DTR" pressure because he "R's" for the other team. Easy peezy.

Bob from Biggest Loser. Now that I have my wardrobe manager... I need to look gooood in them clothes. Plus Bob is hot. Right? So hot. Here's another picture in case you aren't sure of his hottness...

And of course, now that I dress well and my bodies rockin... I need some arm candy. I submit the below options:


I'd also take

Enters: Harrison Ford (below). First, Indiana Jones is my ideal fantasy man. Right? I mean, he's got the geekery and dorkness of an academic; which I'm a COMPLETE blathering SUCKER for... AND, he's still courageous, adventurous, and spontaneous with his whip snapping, woman woo'ing, Nazi-defying, ways.And check out that hat. That hat is sexy on a stick. 

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

Second! I'll take Harrison Ford 20 years ago or today... as in right now.  Right? Look at him. LOOK! 

But these are just the man-crushes. Naturally, I have some girl-crushes as well. All girls have girl-crushes just as all dudes (though they won't admit it generally - eye roll) have dude-crushes. I'm not ashamed of my girl-crushes and genuinely believe that the below women and I could probably be best friends. (Stalker alert!). Or at least enjoy each other's company. Discuss books, music... share clothes. Or mainly let me borrow their's... well maybe their shoes. Can't imagine Nat and I wear the same size of jeans (mumble grumble).

The classy and always stunning Scarlett J. Maybe she'd let me borrow her clothes. Don't ya think? Maybe! She's down like that. In in exchange.. I'd let her use my Gateway parking pass. Fair is fair!

And next...

I read in a magazine once - that one of Natalie Portman's favorite books was The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. I was like "Nuh-uh! Me too!" And she then proceeded to quote my favorite analogy from the book about a fig tree and all the choices facing the antagonist as a woman. And the longer she waits to decide what path to take, the figs (representing her choices) shrivel and fall to the ground. Natalie and I, we could talk about books. Something I look for in all my girl-crushes.

Class. Beauty. Talent. Royal. I love Julie Andrews.
I see this as my future. Pink and pearls. That's where it's at. And I bet she has some classic shoes too I'd wear today or 40 years from today. This lady is tiiiiimeless. 

So there you have it. I'm sure there are many more men out there I'd like to hook arms with and plenty of fabulous women who would love to be friends with me with them. BUT I thought I'd just list a few and hopefully help you reminisce about the men (or women) you wouldn't mind raining down upon you. Come on... you can think of someone you wouldn't mind dropping from the sky and keeeeeeeerSPLAT! land on the pavement on your way home from work... school.. the grocery store. Why yes Matt Damon, though your leg is strangely twisted from that rather nasty fall, you MAY carry my grocery bags. Bring Johnny Depp with you - he looks like he may need me to stitch up his forehead. Siiiiigh. Every woman's dream.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why you need Kleenex for this post OR, Why I greatly dislike the IRS and so should you! or, How I missed a steal of a deal trip to London over New Years OR, WHY ME!

(First, I'd like you to know I feel like a piece of hell. Cough, hack... inversion... school finals... headache... possibly walking pnemonia. Sympathies welcomed)

I would like to tell you a story. Settle in. Get yourself a cup of something steamy, grab a blanket and a box of Kleenex.Yep, it's that kind of story.

Ahem hem. The setting is Friday, mid-morning, slaving away at my place of employment. Alright, I wasn't slaving away necessarily as it WAS a Friday and slaving on Fridays, as we all know, is un-American. So if you slaved away last Friday, please turn in your American flag and apple pie plates. You! Are un-American. For shame.

Anyway - I was doing this and that on Friday when a co-worker sends me a little email "6 Days in London for $799" with accompanying link. Posh, man! Poppy-cock and Cadswallup! As everyone knows - there's always some sort of catch to these deals - the first one being it would clearly only be 4 days in London as 2 of those days will be spent flying. THEN, you will have jet-lag at least one of those days because the flights they offer at such a rate are at like, 3:00pm, meaning you end up staying up all night and through an extra day and no matter where in the world you are - that is unpleasant - thus TECHNICALLY, it's only 3 days in London and $799 isn't worth it. ALSO - as to the flight poppycock - usually these deals are only for those living in such hubs like Chicago, New York, or even LA. Don't nobody give the Utahns a break. Come on! Greatest. Snow. On. Earth. Doesn't that count for something? So tack on extra moneys for getting from SLC to whatever hub they're offering this "fab" deal. And that price likely encompasses flight ONLY anyway and no accommodation arrangements which, as we all know, is pretty much the same price as the flight these days. And even if the accommodations are included, in LONDON, that would mean you're likely staying in a hotel resembling 16th Century London which may seem quaint - until you realize that your hotel is an uncanny replica of the scene recreation from the movie From Hell (starring Johnny Depp...grrrrrowel) where Jack the Ripper stalked his victims, and yes, that is raw sewage running down the gutter and yes, those are rats and not small dogs gnawing on... is that... a human arm? (!!), and the local law enforcement recommends you be indoors by nightfall if you value your life and your virtue, if you please.

Wah wah wah! So... maintaining my skepticism, cynicism, and realism (isms isms isms)... I mention these things to my friend because dammit, if I'm disenfranchised than he should be too! I'm just trying to look out for him... cause that's the kind of friend I am. Andrea! Protector of Friend's Virtue and Rationalism! That title should come with a cape. A flowy purple one with gleeming gold stars. What? Oh, you've thought about it ya big poser!

At any rate...

I voice these Debby Downer confines of the seemingly "great deal" to London for "6 days" and he comes back at me with the following:

1. It's actually 8 days - as they DO account for those two days in the air so really - you'll be on London soil for 6 days. Mmm... London Soil... 6 days. Drool drool.

2. Oh and that price? Well, there are taxes and fees and "just because we felt like charging you's" - but when it came down to it - for BOTH hotel AND flight - for those 6 (really 8) days - $1500. Do you hear what I'm saying? $1500 for 6 full nights in London! Do you realize TICKETS to London cost this much generally? Well, perhaps a liiiiittle less... but I can tell you if you don't want to spend your night with bed bugs, in a closet cot next to Jack the Ripper, and a flesh gnawing dog-rat, you're gonna be paying much more than that for some decent accommodations. Which brings us to...

3. Accommodations. Oh, in Chelsea. Yep. (MAP) What does that mean? Oh, it only means it's a very cute quaint part of town not two tube stops from the City Center. Listen, I spent about 6 weeks in central London and thus have a decent idea (dillusion? maybe...) about where things are in relation to what and the location of that hotel for THAT combined price is basically a steal. Oh hold the phone - looks like you can also stay near King's Cross for the same price. Why does King's Cross sounds familiar? It's only because that's the station Harry Potter caught the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9 3/4 (said three quarters for yon Americans). Yep. Geekry and cheapery all at once. Pip! pip!

4. The dates - over BLOOMIN New Years! New Years! In London! (see above picture) Dec 28th-January 4th. Er... uh... what. Turns out I get back to SLC from my Cruise on the 27th - so why not just hop a plane to London and be out of town for both Christmas AND New Years? I mean I only officially have to work 3 days that week anyway so why not? Why not??!??! WHY!?!??!?!?

5. I found a friend who was happy and willing and excited and travel-buddy worthy to do it with me. So.. great price, good location, LONDON, travel-buddy, out of town for New Years... LONDON!

6. Touche my emailing-co-worker-of-awesome-international-deals. Aaaaaamen.

So what's the hang up? Why did I tell you to get a Kleenex box? Because you're crying tears of jealousy and joy? The joys for me... the jealousy for you. Well... sadly... that's not why you need that box.

Here's why...

Flash back with me to about 6 months ago. I receive a letter with the return label IRS. Never bodes well does it? WELL! Long story short - turns out the year I had 6 jobs (see 2007-2008) I may or may not have (mostly may not have) listed one of those jobs. It was a writing gig for a non-profit company for MAYBE 3 months. And me, being the naive 24 year old (and clearly much less knowledgeable than my current naive 27 year old standing) didn't withhold taxes for myself. What did I know? It was like babysitting really. Earning some dough here and there while working at Banana Republic and a data entry job while being newly laid off from a teaching position. Prospects were low. So very low. And self-taxing wasn't even remotely on my mind. Hierarchy of needs and all that jazz.

At any rate...

I took care of it. Reported it. Sent in this form and signed that. Made phone calls. And for 3 months have been awaiting my sentence. It came last week. $1000. *&%$!!! Yep - I owe the IRS $1000... right before Christmas.

Enter Kleenex. Sniff... tear...

I tell you Internet - had I not had that stOOpid IRS bill hanging over my head and subsequently, didn't have to think of buying books for stOOPid school - I was THIS CLOSE to booking that freaky steal of a deal trip to my beloved London-town. THIS. CLOSE. Can I tell you how Paris was the same set up but for $1700? Oui, c'est vrai. London or Paris could've been MINE for New Years and you, 2 readers, would've had the amazing, no fantastic, no INCREDIBLE, opportunity to read how I, Andrea Jolene, not only spent Christmas in the Mexican Riviera but subsequently hopped a plan to "Jolly Old" for New Years. I can see the "I'm so jealous" posts now. Alas!

So that's my story. I hope you enjoyed it or at least learned a lesson: never try and jip the IRS OR, don't go back to school you dolt OR, get paid more money so that $1000 to the IRS seems like annoying pocket change rather than a choice between London for New Years and federal prison. For the IRS WILL find you; mark my words. Furthermore, they will find you right when it's most terrible and inconvenient to do so (though in retrospect - I can't really think of a time that would've had me exclaim "Hot damn! This $1000 non-planned for IRS bill came just at the right time! I happen to have it here, in my pocket, at this very moment! Do you take cash? Can I just fly it out to you on my way to FRIGGIN LONDON FOR NEW YEARS!"). Truly though - the IRS must be a bunch of humbugs to send such a crappy bill right before Christmas! Christmas man! I mean, it's Jesus's birthday and I get a bill for $1000? Doesn't put me in the most Christian mind-set. I'm sending them WWJD bracelets with my payment installments. That'll make them think twice about sending their dark tidings during such a festive occasion... an occasion with ridiculously awesome travel deals to my favorite place in the whole bloody world. Sniff sniff - pass me a tissue, would you?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gobble Gobble

I hope you all ate yourselves into a food-stupor like I did. Thanksgiving is easily one of my top 3 holidays - surpassed only by Halloween and Talk like a Pirate Day. Right? Avast ye scabrous dogs! Ye slack-toothed Bill's rats! If I were to commit a horrendous crime (Piracy? I've got the accent! Now for the parrot) that would land me on death row and subsequently, allow me one final meal before I went to the chair, I'd request a full on Thanksgiving dinner! Warden! I said sweet potatoes AND smashed potatoes and yes! Orangeville gravy DOES exist you doughnut hole! Did you call my Grandma? She knows all about it and can send some on over to the Clinker. What a great final meal that would be! It's my jailbird bucket-list. What's on yours? Oh, you don't have one? Huh... well that's... weird. I mean, you never know if one day you'll land yourself in the big house. Anything could happen. Anything could just... snap! I guess only the really horrendous things land you on death row anymore. What happened to the good old days of merely accusing your neighbor of witchcraft and she was swinging from the noose the next day? And really, even the most horrendous crimes you have to basically be video-taped journaling your diabolical scheme; taped all the way through the crime like some "How I Murdered my Boss" documentary (only an example!!), outlining weapon selection, escape route, packing materials (oh come on! Cement shoes? Puh-lease... so cliche), and as the final scene, boasting how you had premeditated this murder ever since that thieving scallywag took half of the booty you rightfully stole and to prove it, here are the accomplices willing to squeal me out for a reduced sentence should this documentary accidentally fall into law-enforcement clutches. That final Thanksgiving dinner in the clinker already sounds like too much work.

Speaking of murder - I cooked my first Turkey this year! Yep! I was a turkey-cooking virgin until this year. I'm a slow mover - like to make sure I'm making the right decision. There's a lot of risk involved! However, I finally felt I'd gotten to know Turkey very well over the years and this year just felt... magical. And magic it was. I don't want to get too graphic - but lets just say I never thought I'd satisfy an entire room full of 20 people with my very first go around. Some people are just naturals I guess. Just think how good I'll be NEXT year!

The dead raw bird and live vegetable buddies 

The cooked bird and juicy vegetable buddies

Me sniffing satisfyingly after the cooking is done

Let me tell you the secret to a good Turkey. Yes, it only took me one time to know the secret. Brine the Bird. Truly! I think that's what clenched the deal for me in the end - it had already soaked it's little frozen body in salt water over night. I then proceeded to slather butter over its salty body and cook for 4 hours. Easy as pie I tell you. Except that pie is kinda hard - pie crust at any rate. Have you every attempted THAT? I did a pumpkin pie one year and after a few crust constructing attempts ended up at Marie Calendars. But after my Turkey success, I'm ready to tackle the All American Apple pie. Perhaps I'll try my hand at it after finals are over. When I have time to use my brain energy for something other than analysing this and researching that and presenting the other. Shudder.

Speaking of school.

I go to the University of Uta(thought I'd throw the stalkers a bone - it's the Holidays after all!)  and bleed red through and through. That said, last Saturday I watched the Utes BEAT that school down south (pst... It's BYU) and was so happy I got a gnarly celebration bruise on my calf to prove it. Hard core, right? I feel we won with... what's the word Max Hall used last year? Oh yes... Class ;) But mostly we won because we blocked what should've been BYU's game-winng field goal and I'm not to proud (dillusional) to admit that my hopes were very low that BYU would miss a field goal. Welp... they didn't miss... we just BLOCKED THAT SUCKER! Mwahahahahahahaha!

Here's a picture of that.

Alright - I hope you all had a fattening Thanksgiving and stayed out of jail. We still have Christmas to look forward to and as a reminder, I will not be here in this wintry wonderland of icy death, but here instead.