Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Highlights

For the past two and a half days, I was overwhelmed with family and Christmas, but definitely in a good way. I look forward to Christmas every year, and always try to yell "Stop!!" as it flies right by me, but I had a fantastic few days.

Some highlights:

1.) Aiden, my cousin Missie's 6 year old, telling our cousin Ben (18) that he was a boy on the outside but a girl on the inside. LOL. Last year at Thanksgiving he called Ben a girl b/c he had long hair.

2.) While I was drying my hair the following morning, my cousin Missie's boyfriend reached his arm around me and in his hand was a beautiful ring - he was proposing to her that night. We all adore Jason and are so happy to "officially" welcome him to the family!

3.) Since it was too warm and rainy to ice skate (again!!), we had breakfast at Pamela's, a great diner. They have old pictures all over the walls of Pittsburghers doing various things - grinning, playing baseball, etc. All candids. I took pictures of most of my cousins next to some funny pics and wound up with great results: Ben grinning next to a freckled, youngster showing off missing teeth, Amy imitating a Betty Boop pose next to the pinup cartoon. I promise to share these with you as soon as I have time to upload the pics!

4.) Mass...I don't attend church regularly, but when I do go I always have a strong sense of nostalgia. I attended Catholic schools my entire life, so we went to mass a lot during school. Every time I return, it's like old home week, knowing the songs and mouthing the prayers along with the priest.

5.) The little girl in front of me playing with her hair, and then comparing her hair with her aunt's. She would stretch out a strand of her own, bring it close to her aunt's hair and wrap the two pieces together. Adorable.

6.) Reliving memories from when we went to Vegas in May with my cousin and our family in my Grandparents' basement while drinking homemade Bailey's. My cousin Erin turned 21 a few short weeks before we went out west and one night was particularly memorable.

7.) My Grandma showing everyone a picture of one of the doctors she used to work with, and his family. She pointed out all of the kids and then pointed to the youngest child: "That one was a mistake, she just came along after all the others." I was crying, I was laughing so hard.

8.) My crazy aunt Nancy buying all of the girls ridiculous one-piece pajamas. They're all maroon, long-sleeved, and shorts instead of pants. Hard to describe, but hilarious.

9.) Teasing Jason for having Missie in his phone as "Baby Girl." I kept harassing him, asking him if he proposed to her as Baby Girl.

10.) Being with my parents and sister on Christmas morning. My parents went all out and got us big gifts this year, which they never do. I got a Bose iPod sound dock!!

11.) Watching my mom open her gift from my sister and me. We got her a mother's necklace with our birthstones in it (aquamarine for Mary Beth and peridot for me). And then watching her show off her new necklace to everyone later that night!


12.) Watching Mamma Mia! with my mom and sister Christmas afternoon.

13.) Playing Mario Kart on my sister's Wii that she received from my parents. And I'm an idiot - when she opened it, I thought my parents just got her a game. I didn't realize until well into the afternoon that they actually bought her the console. Duh!

14.) Seeing the family on my mom's side. My cousin Luke was there first with his twin daughters, Morgan and Lidia. They were the entertainment all night.

15.) Having a braunschweiger sandwich for Christmas dinner. I used to love this meat but haven't had it in years. Yum!!

16.) Watching Morgan & Lidia eat cupcakes with bright green frosting, turning their tongues, teeth, fingers, and everything they touched green.

17.) Seeing the gift that I bought for our exchange be stolen repeatedly! Everyone buys a $15 gift and we pull cards. The first person picks a gift and unwraps it; the next person can unwrap a new gift or steal the gift that the first person already opened, and so on. I bought a picture frame that has "Family Ties" written on the bottom and four or five spots for pictures. It's pretty big. My sister finally wound up with it.

All in all, I had a great Christmas. Tonight is the party with my friends, and we do a gift exchange like the one my family did last night. Tomorrow is another party, and Sunday is the last regular Steelers home game! So it will be a busy weekend, as usual.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Time Has Arrived

Tonight, my Christmas celebrations begin and I can't wait! My cousins and I are spending the night together and also picking up one of us from the airport (keep your fingers crossed that she is not one of the many people who is delayed!), then tomorrow we will ice skate. Tomorrow we will be with family all evening, and then Wednesday is the actual day.

I can't wait to see everyone open the gifts I got for them and I hope everyone likes what they receive.

I'm so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends, and my newly expanded blogger friends. I am definitely thankful for all that I have and I hope that all of you have fantastic holidays as well.
So stay safe and have wonderful celebrations with your family and friends.
Caitlyn - I love you, and we will miss you so much, but you know that we will call and harass you enough that you'll be wanting to be left in peace. Have a great first Christmas with Taylor and know that we're thinking of you all night and all day!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Airport Musings

Observations from my recent aeropuerto adventures....

Why do they still sell pleated jeans? They're not cute on anyone. Yet, I saw a fatherly gentleman sporting them proudly, with a tucked-in turtleneck almost the same color as the wash of the jeans. The pleats were displayed to their full advantage. It wasn't okay. It still isn't. If stores would just come to a consensus and manufacturers wouldn't make them anymore, it would save so many people from making such an obvious fashion error.

I watched a pair of college-aged lesbians for awhile, as they were sitting right in front of me. One spoke loudly on her cell phone about how some of her friends were hooking up, and needless to say, it caught my attention (and the attention of most surrounding gates). And, when did "college-aged" get so young?

Anyway, these girls were still in the stage where they were trying to shock all of us old fogies at the gate, and made a point of liplocking every time one of them went to the bathroom or had to get some food. It just made me laugh. Also, it was clear that one of them was more masculine than the other...but someone should tell her that to be truly effective, she should stop wearing jeans made for girls.

I think that stores need to be banned from airports. Every time I fly somewhere, I'm compelled to stop at Nine West and buy shoes. This day was no exception - not only did I buy them, but I immediately went to the bathroom and put them on. I love them! But they eventually started to pinch my toes - I think Nine West has changed their sizes. I'm normally a solid 8 1/2, but when I've tried them on lately, they've been too wide so I've opted for the 8...and then they pinch my toes after awhile.

Speaking of shoes, boots. The boot trend has been around for a year or two now, and every other female that I saw at the airport sported pants or jeans tucked into their boots. I'm not anti this trend, but it's not okay that every woman under the sun thinks she can pull it off. So many women seemed to think that they were being fashion forward and so thought they could get away with a clever combo of boots and pants - not so much.

Women should be required to take a test before purchasing boots, especially boots with the fur. Anyone over the age of 35 should be automatically eliminated (maybe younger than that). Even fur trim should be severely restricted. If a woman does not pass the test, she should be required to take lessons on the best type of pants to tuck into boots and locations where this look is appropriate.

(For anyone wondering...I have never, myself, tucked my jeans into my boots. I don't think I can pull it off. I think it looks terrific when it's done correctly, but the plethora of examples available at the Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Indianapolis airports reinforced my thought that only certain people can make it look good.)

I suppose my people-watching and fascination truly translates into criticisms of what everyone else is wearing. LOL. Hey, I was entertained!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

To Save My E-mail Friends Again...

The bold ones are things I've done....

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band - okay, I was the alto recorder in high school but it still counts!
4. Visited Hawaii - darn, broke my streak
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland - that will hopefully change this summer! And I have been to Disney World, so I'm giving myself half points (hence the italics)
8. Climbed a mountain - my friend Laurel and I felt like it was a mountain in Edinburgh, Scotland, but the locals called it a hill
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo - we did Annie for my first grade play and I was absent the day they cast the roles...I was always convinced that, had I been there, I would have had the lead, instead of stupid "Narrator 3"
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train - and after seeing Carrie & Samantha's adventures on Sex in the City, not sure I ever want to!
21. Had a pillow fight - of course I have, I went to sleepovers when I was little!
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - how do you think I was able to interview for jobs in Pittsburgh? Not that it helped...I still moved home unemployed
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held an alligator
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon - and I don't see this one ever being bolded...
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice - I've ridden one at the Venetian...definitely counts for half!
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - I should get double, I've watched both (really, who hasn't??)
31. Hit a home run - Yay, Sarah Heinz House kickball!
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - someday I will blog about how we used to drive up there and drink when I was 19...love that the drinking age is lower in Canadia!
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors - we will be going to Ireland in 3 years!
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language - definitely counting my Pig Latin expertise and my slight Spanish knowledge
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke - again, who hasn't?
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance - hope this one's never bolded!
47. Had your portrait painted - my mom's friend painted one of all of my grandparents' grandkids for their 50th anniversary present
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person - definitely half points; we were outside of it and they closed it before we could get in line....not sure why....
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling - in Cancun and Key West
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie - home movies definitely count!
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies - no. The city of Pittsburgh has Camp Fire Girls, not Girl Scouts. And I wasn't allowed to join.
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving - definitely on my To Do!
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check - grrr
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Been to Canada - oh those crazy days in college...
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job - never want this one bolded, either!
76. Seen the changing of the guards in London
77. Broken a bone - pretty sure I had something broken in my foot the last time I was a klutz, but I never got an x-ray
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - I should get double points - I was drunk!!
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person - we flew over it, that totally counts!
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Seen Bon Jovi in concert - we saw NKOTB, that totally counts for half!
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read Gone With The Wind
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - ewww
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous - Kirk Cameron was in a wedding that I served when I was in high school. How jealous are you??
92. Joined a book club - didn't last very long...
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit - my sister and I got rear ended and we won some cash
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Totally copied a post from someone else's blog to your own

Okay, I have some things to catch up on...43 bolded and 7 halfsies.

Mixed Emotions

So, my days at my current job are winding to an end. It hasn't completely hit me yet that I have two short weeks left, so I'm always mildly shocked when someone brings it up.

This is bad for two reasons: 1 - since I'm not mentally prepared to leave, I'm also not mentally prepared to student teach...and I'm going to need all the help I can get!
2 - when it does hit me, it's going to be much more emotional than I'm okay with. I'm not a crier in general, and I really don't like to do it in front of people...I'm afraid that I'll be a mess whenever the "going away" things culminate.

One of the best and worst things about leaving is that you discover how valued people really think that you are. It's great b/c I feel like I truly am a respected member of our HR team, and people have been slowly and steadily coming out of the woodwork to reinforce that. It's bad because I feel as though I have under appreciated my colleagues.

I have only good memories of when I left my last position. I lived and worked in the Virginia Beach area, and I worked in a company's distribution center as the Assistant HR Manager for about a year and a half before my position was eliminated and I was moved to the corporate office. I was lucky enough that they had a position to move me into, but it was a job that a smart monkey could have performed. I only lasted six months before I moved back to Pittsburgh.

Yet, in those short six months, I made inroads into my new co-workers. I joined a group of ladies who walked around the parking lot twice a day, I chatted with the employees in Benefits who sat by my cubicle, and I became friends with the receptionist who worked for the CPO (that's Chief People Officer - no, I'd never heard of it before either). All of this resulted in a surprisingly touching response when they found out I was leaving. Cards, tokens, a happy hour...I was really shocked at how everyone reacted, and I know how heartfelt it was.

Since then, I have occasionally gone back and read those cards whenever I'm down in the dumps. I have a picture of my closest corporate friend and me in my room at home, and I stay in touch (okay, sporadically - I'm so bad at that!) with my boss from the distribution center.

So it's beginning to be time to gather the newest additions to my collection. It may seem silly, but I really appreciate every small thing that people have been saying to me. I got a random e-mail this morning (in response to a sassy remark I made about how she's not going to have to nag me anymore) from someone in my department who told me what a joy it was to work with me.

I can also see my co-workers sneaking around, blatantly hiding things from me. That sounds like a contradiction, but it's not - they'll ask me to leave the room and then I hear peals of laughter coming from behind the closed door...

I just need to remember to gather these comments and keep them with me, so that I can examine them whenever I'm feeling discouraged in a new job or down about changing careers.

Friday, December 12, 2008

At Last...

I have my student teaching placement!! I will be at a middle school w/in Pittsburgh Public, and I will be teaching 7th grade Reading and Language Arts. It's so real to me now that I'm starting to get super nervous...

There are so many requirements for a student teacher that I'm glad I never followed through and got a part-time job. It looks like I'll be doing prep work every minute that I'm not in school and I'm a little intimidated by that. I really hope that my cooperating teacher is wonderful. I think I'll need all of the support I can get.

And, I have a dilemma. During our first student teacher seminar, my professor made a point of saying that we had to make sure that we didn't have any crazy "websites" like Facebook or MySpace. I, of course, have both. But I don't think I have anything outrageous posted on either, and both are set to private. Not to mention that I have this blog. But I don't think that anything on the blog account has my full name, and I have tried to keep most things fairly anonymous, so I think as long as I don't mention any students or teachers by name I'll be safe.

What do you think? Do you think I should delete my Facebook & MySpace pages? What about my blog?

I would hate to do it but I don't want to have anything tarnish my reputation this early in the game...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas!!!!! Part II

Okay, so in an effort to cheer myself up and stop obsessing over my lack of a student teaching placement, I decided to move forward with the Christmas post I've been promising!

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and there are many, many reasons why. Here are just a few...

1. Candy Canes - I love them! All that pepperminty goodness, curved into the fun shape of a cane. Although that darn bend does make it harder to enjoy that part, the rest of it is fabulous. When I was little, I only liked the multi-colored ones that tasted like cherry, but now I only like the traditional peppermint ones.


2. Peppermint Mocha - I've already mentioned my love of this frothy beverage from Starbucks, but it can never be discussed too frequently, as far as I'm concerned. Love it w/soy milk, and have recently converted a co-worker to my drink of choice.

3. Christmas Trees - I love a beautifully decorated tree. I don't care what color or kind of decorations are on them, I adore them all. And the smell!!! I so wish I lived in a place where it was feasible to have a real one...maybe I can have one whereever I wind up living next year.

4. Shopping - Finding the perfect gift is awesome. I wish I could say that I always find the perfect gifts for everyone every year, but I definitely am not that creative. But I just love being able to go to the mall or to the store and spend. I can always justify it b/c it's the one time of the year that I'm not cheap and I don't feel guilty for spending money. Better yet, it's spent on other people!!

5. Christmas Music - Again, I know I've talked about this in the past, but I just love it. I have a huge playlist on my iPod, tons of CDs, and a playlist on my work computer that drives my co-workers crazy. I love the 98 Degrees CD, and I also love the funny songs from South Park.

6. Snow - Christmas is the one time of the year that it's okay for it to snow. My usual theory about snow is that if it's going to be that cold outside, it may as well snow. But Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the only two days of the year that snow is welcome in all of its white, fluffy glory.

7. Christmas Parties - I love having the opportunity to see everyone dressed up in their winter best. There's always such a great mood at holiday parties, and everyone is cheerful. I have two to attend this weekend, and I can't wait!

8. Holiday Spirit - I really think everyone is happier and more giving at this time of the year than at any other time. It's tough to be annoyed by a crowded store when there's a Salvation Army bell-ringer shivering outside. The sound of that bell just reminds you of Christmas, and reminds you to be generous. We need something like this for the summer months...

9. Decorations - Nothing makes me happier than to come in to the cafeteria and to see it transformed into a Christmas wonderland. I love seeing the stores in all of their finery, and especially the windows downtown at Kaufmann's (okay, it's Macy's now. Sheesh).

10. Family Traditions - I saved this for last b/c it's nearest and dearest to my heart. The holidays are a time for family, and I love being with them. Christmas Eve is my absolute favorite day of the year. My cousins on my dad's side (including Caitlyn) are all very close, and we started ice skating during the day at the rink at PPG Place downtown. We go and get some Starbucks, wait in line, and ice skate in a beautiful location.

We have deviated from this tradition a few times (last year it was too rainy to ice skate, the year before there was a Steelers home game on Christmas Eve) but we always spend the time together, which is the most important part.

(Okay, this pic is obviously a few years old)

In the evening, my parents' best friends and their kids always come over to my parents' house before mass, and we visit with them and then we all walk up to church and go to mass. Afterwards, we pile into the car and head to my Grandparents' house. Their house is wonderful. There's always a roaring fire, homemade Bailey's, all of relatives from that side of the family, lots of food, and laughter. My cousins and I (same ones from the morning) always sit in the living room and sing Christmas carols. After dinner, we nag the "adults" to come upstairs so that we can open gifts.


Then the flurry begins. The youngest cousins pass out the gifts, and my Grandma always tries to make people open one at a time so that everyone can see what everyone else received. This never lasts very long - soon there's wrapping paper everywhere and "thank you's" being shouted over the noise.

The last tradition is pajamas. My Grandma buys all of the cousins PJs every year. And every year we immediately put them on after the gifts are opened and then wear them home. Keep in mind our ages range from 6 - 38. And it never fails. We tell her annually that she always has to get us PJs.

Christmas Day is always wonderful, too. I stay at my parents' house and open gifts with them and my sister in the morning. We gorge ourselves on a big breakfast. The afternoon/evening is reserved for my mom's side of the family. We go to someone's house and we get to see all of my relatives on that side. A lot of my cousins on that side live out of state, but there's usually someone home for the holidays, and it's always great to catch up.

We also do a grab bag on this side of the family - everyone buys something and then we draw cards to determine the order of who opens when. You can open a new gift or steal someone else's (everyone calls this something different). There's usually one gift every year that moves through the ranks, and it's hilarious.

Mission accomplished - I'm in a much better mood now!! I love the holidays :)

Irritated...

Well, last night I had my last class for my last "real" grad school course. I turned in my portfolio and all is done. Tonight, I have my first Student Teaching Seminar. Not sure what I'm going to do, since I STILL have not received my student teaching assignment.

The longer this goes on, the more irritated I get about the whole situation. It's making me hate my choice to attend this school, and that's terrible. I am so frustrated with the entire department - no one will return my calls. My advisor was unsympathetic, saying that my classmate who already has her assignment just got hers early. Okay, I'll buy that for a week or two - but it's been almost a month, and my mailbox remains empty.

This program is really geared towards people in my exact situation - someone who has a Bachelor's degree in a subject who wants to get a teaching certificate and earn a Masters. It's for people who already have a first career and are working; that's why all the courses are at night and we don't have any actual time in a secondary classroom, b/c it's understood that we have jobs during the day during the week.

So why would you make someone wait so incredibly long to let them know where they will be spending the next four weeks of their life? Another classmate also hasn't received her placement, and she has to give notice to her employer. As someone in HR, that's not something to be taken lightly. Obviously, my situation is a little bit different, but I haven't talked to my boss about when my last day will be since I have NO IDEA when I will be starting my assignment. I know, vaguely, that it will be after the new year, but that's just not good enough. Every time I think about it, it makes me angrier and angrier. If I didn't respond to someone or allowed this to happen, my job would be in jeopardy. It's unacceptable that it's just "the way things are" at my university. If it's a problem with Pittsburgh Public Schools - then don't send student teachers there anymore!! We are lucky enough to have numerous school districts surrounding the city, so why depend on one entity. I had to turn in my paperwork in APRIL - yeah, six months ago - and I haven't heard a peep.

ARGH.

Okay, I'm done. And I feel better now - I swear!

Okay, one more thing - my co-workers are making me sad :( I don't know why, but today my boss just kept looking at me with a sad, puppy dog face. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that it's hitting him that I'm leaving soon and he's really going to miss me. My counterpart won't let anyone talk about it b/c she's an emotional person and will just start crying. I keep telling them they may wind up stuck with me until June since I still don't know where the heck I'm going to be, but they're not buying it. Although they have said that they are going to call my school and tell them to keep my paperwork lost....hmmm....

Anyway, how 'bout them Stillers?? What a game, eh? I'm still hoarse from screaming on Sunday and I was still cold all day yesterday. That wind was not fun. Even my beer coat didn't protect me from that.

It's been so cold in Pittsburgh lately that I stepped outside today and thought it was positively balmy. "Wow," I thought, "I guess the temps did get up into the 50s like the weather chick said."

I got in my car, started my engine, and looked at my temp readout - 33 degrees. What?!? Okay, this provides yet another reason for me to move south - 33 degrees is not warm! It's not balmy! And it's definitely not okay that I thought that this morning!! LOL.

I need to get back into Christmas mode. I haven't finished decorating my apartment and I need to get my cards together. I haven't sent out Christmas cards since I moved back to Pittsburgh (not sure why, too lazy and cheap, I guess) but I've already bought them and I need to make it happen. I keep getting mail asking for donations for various organizations. I hate receiving them. I always feel guilty b/c I rarely donate, and this year I have to be even more careful with my money since I will be unemployed soon. At the same time, I don't really have the opportunity to donate my time since I'm still so busy with work. I'll have to figure something out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

'Nother....

Again, thanks to Shades...she is saving all of my friends from the e-mails they normally get whenever one of these is passed around!!

1) How do you like your grilled cheese?
With more than one type of cheese (preferably pepperjack and provolone) and tomatoes. Sometimes bacon, too.

2) Where did you go on your last vacation?
Key West, FL

3) Who are your godparents?
Um, I think my Uncle Rich (dad's brother) and Aunt Nancy (dad's sister)

4) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Teaching somewhere, possibly getting ready to move back to Pittsburgh or loving my life so much in my new locale that I never want to leave. I can also see myself teaching abroad.

5) Where are you at noon everyday?
I am never in the same place at noon every day. If it's a "normal" work day, I'm probably either in the cafeteria or already eating in our conference room. If I'm at a job fair - I'm at a job fair. I may also be in the car. On weekends, I could be anywhere - tailgating, reading in my bed, shopping...you name it!

6) How many speeding tickets have you gotten?
Hmm...4?

7) When was the last time you swam?
Probably on a day we went on the boat....

8) What do you order at Subway?
Roast beef w/pepper jack cheese, toasted, w/pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and southwest sauce.

9) Do you keep your closets organized?
Absolutely not. My friend is dying to come over and organize mine - and I want to let her, but I need to pre-clean before that happens!

10) How do you make headaches go away?
Keep popping ibuprofen. When I get headaches, they normally last a week or more, and ibuprofen is the only thing that works on them, so I just keep taking them until it's finally gone.

11) Have you owned a beta before?
Yes. At my college, only freshmen live in dorms, after that you live in on-campus apartments and then townhouses. So my three roommates and I were so excited to have an apartment that we went to Wal-Mart and each bought a beta. I can't remember what we named them. But most of them were dead within a month. That first flushing was tough!! Eventually, all went to the great septic system in the sky. Then, our junior year, one of our friends gave us a plant with a beta in it (remember when that was the really popular gift??). Our neighbors got one too, and it was right after the South Park movie had come out, so we named one "clit" and the other one "orus." LOL. Bet that was way more than you thought you'd get from a question about beta, huh?

12) If you moved out of state where would you go?
What a relevant question to my life!! I would like to move south - South Carolina, Georgia, maybe Florida or New Orleans.

13) Did you attend pre school?
No.

14) What do your shower curtains look like?
Different shades of gray with squares, I think. I don't really pay attention to it!

15) Did you have an imaginary friend as a child?
Not unless the New Kids on the Block count...I was convinced they'd come perform for me any day...

16) How do you make eggs?
Overeasy.

17) Where do you wash your clothes?
In the washer.

18) Who are the neighbors who live to the right of you?
Joe, our landlord (if you're facing the back. No one lives on the right if you're facing the front).

19) What are your thoughts on Tom Cruise?
He's a whack-a-do.

20) What is the next vehicle you wish to buy?
Hmm...either a Pontiac G6 or a Saturn Vue....or a Nissan Rogue.

21) Do you pay bills online or by mail?
All online except for the gas bill - there's a charge to pay online, so I mail that one.

22) What would be the best gift someone could get you right now?
My student teaching assignment.

23) What is something stressful you will deal with next week?
Going to Indianapolis to observe a school for my thesis. Also turning in my portfolio project for my current class.

24) What is something in your home that you collect?
Books, Steelers stuff.

25) What did you do last night?
Had a meeting at a restaurant in the South Side, did a wee bit of shopping (there's a new Nine West store there!), went home to take a quick nap before going to see Frost Nixon downtown...and didn't wake up until my roommate got home until after 9. Oops!! Guess I was sleepier than I thought....I didn't really want to see the play, anyway (it came in the 6 pack we got for the Pittsburgh Broadway series).

26) Who did you last see?
My co-worker.

27) How do you take your coffee?
Splenda and creamer, preferably flavored.

28) What is the oldest thing in your fridge?
Who knows? Probably condiments...it would be worse but my roommate cleans it out :)

29) On your keyboard what key is wearing out from pressing it so much?
S, N

30) Where do you put your keys when you come home?
On the counter or in my purse.

31) Where do you go for Thanksgiving?
Either my aunt's or my parents'. This year it was at my aunt's.

32) How old will you be in 2010?
30 (eek!).

33) What actor or actress would play you in a movie?
I have no idea...

34) How much cash is in your wallet?
A few singles...

35) Would you have a one night stand with your favorite movie star?
I probably wouldn't be able to handle it...I'd get flustered just talking to him.

36) What color is your phone?
Navy blue-ish.

37) If you were starving to death would you eat a pet?
No.

38) Ever been to Alabama?
No.

39) What kind of accent do you have?
NOT a Pittsburghese one, although I use many Pittsburghese words. I'd say just a Yankee accent.

40) What kind of alcoholic drinks are in your fridge right now?
In my fridge? Maybe a beer or two. Most of my alcohol is behind the bar.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Exciting News!

No, I didn't receive my student teaching assignment yet.

But - I did get a summer job! I applied online over a month ago for this program called SD. It's for academically-inclined high school students who take advanced courses over the summer at various college campuses around the country. They have a variety of programs and courses, and the duration is either 4 or 6 weeks.

I got a job as a Residence Counselor, so I'm basically going to be an RA on one of the campuses. The pay isn't fantastic, but the position includes all room and board, travel expenses to and from the campus, and entrance into any events I have to take the kids to. That could include museums, theme parks, concerts, movies, etc.

So where am I going to be? I told the person who interviewed me that I wasn't really particlar (after she said there were no openings in the International program), but that I'd love to go to California since I've never been. She told me that she had a stricter budget than usual due to the economy, but she'd see what she could do. She spoke with the director and e-mailed me that the director would love to have me at (drumroll, please...) UC Santa Barbara!!

It's a six week program, so I expect to be gone about 8 weeks (mid-June through mid-August). How cool is that??? I'm so excited! California, here I come!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Please, Please, Please...

...finish Midnight Sun!!! I spent the entire afternoon reading it and I'm dying for more. That burning Edward feels for Bella? Well, that's inside me now, as I long for the rest of the book. More than the rest of the book, I want an Edward version to accompany each of the rest of the Twilight series books.

So, I'm begging: Stephanie Meyer, please at least finish Midnight Sun. The rest of the book is priceless to your Twilight fans, and we yearn for the conclusion.

And if you can bear it...to write the rest...well, we'd be immeasurably grateful for that, too.

Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!

A big thanks to Shades, for positing this survey and jump-starting my love of Christmas!!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper - this is pretty much the only time of year that I actually wrap gifts, I normally just go to Dollar Tree and buy cheapie gift bags (or recycle them).

2. Real tree or Fake
Well...real. But I have a fake one. I know, it doesn't make sense. Here's the issue. I live in a large, loft-like apartment with very high ceilings. The first year I lived here, I made my roommate go with me and bought a huge, beautiful tree. It was $80. But it was such a pain in the butt to drag up the stairs to the apartment, then to take down and deposit in the dumpster that it was not worth that much money. So last year, my boss sold me his 7 foot pre-lit Christmas tree for a bargain price. Which means I'll be putting it up again this year, to save myself some hassle. But my parents always have and always will get a real tree, and when I live somewhere that's more tree-friendly, I will go back to buying real. Not sure what I'll do with the fake one then...

3. When do you put up the tree?
Whenever I feel like it. I might put it up tonight after work or tomorrow, but it will probably be this weekend, just because I have time for once.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Whenever I feel like it, or when my roommate gets sick of looking at it!

5. Do you like eggnog?
No, yuck!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Hmmm...I remember being thrilled when I got my own desk, and also when my sister and I both got Dukes of Hazzard matchbox cars.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Definitely my dad. He never wants anything. Anything he ever buys for himself he gets impulsively and there is never a pattern to what he does and doesn't like. So every year, we try hard and it's truly hit or miss. He also hates us spending money on him, so half the time he'll yell at us for buying him something. Right, like we're not going to buy you a Christmas present!! I already got half of his present and know what else I'm going to get for him, so I'll keep my fingers crossed!

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Every year, I have one, great, inspired gift idea for someone (I'm not terribly creative, so it's usually only for one person). That gift is always the best one to give. This year it's the grab bag gift I'm giving for our "friends" exchange. I love my idea! I can't tell you what it is b/c I think some people stalk this blog but don't comment (grrrrr)....

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Um, I think I bought a cheapie one for the first Christmas I lived in VA Beach, and I'm pretty sure I still have it. But I definitely need to get a better one.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail - but honestly, I always forget to send them until too late, so I haven't sent any in the past few years, which is terrible. I definitely need to get back into it.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Last year we did a "funny" gift exchange at work (the White Elephant thing) where everyone brought something from home that they didn't want. My gift was an Eggstracter and a Hand Lotion Dispenser that kept the lotion warm. While funny, both were useless. However, my assistant loved them and took both home with her....LOL.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Hands down, it's Santa Claus, The Movie - not The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. My sister and I both love this movie, but most people have never heard of it or seen it.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
It changes every year. Usually not until after Halloween, just b/c I can't get my butt in gear or I don't start thinking about it until then.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Umm...maybe for last year's work thing? I can't even remember what I gave, so I just don't know...

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Starbucks Peppermint Mocha - I know you drink that, but that's what I look forward to every year.

16. Lights on the tree?
Yes please!! My tree is pre-lit with white lights, but I also love the colored ones. I'm not really particular about what kind, but there have to be some!

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Very tough...my favorite Christmas CD is 98 Degrees, This Christmas (sad, I know). But my favorite song is probably Silent Night.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Christmas = Pittsburgh, period. I live here now, so I don't have to travel, except to relatives' homes. When I lived out of state and when I move again, I know I'll be coming home for Christmas Eve and Day, at the very least.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Do you really think a girl who loves Christmas as much as I do would say no????

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Doesn't really matter to me...I'm not partial to either....just has to be something up there!

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas Eve we spend with my dad's side of the family, so we exchange presents and open them then. But the main, immediate family gifts are done Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
The crowds at the stores and malls. I HATE them.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
My favorite ornament is a ceramic baby angel with my name on it. I think my Aunt Nancy made it for me when I was born, and I love it. I don't really have a favorite "theme" but I like to look at trees that have been decorated in a particular way.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing...basically, Thanksgiving dinner. We always have ham on Christmas Eve and if Christmas day is at my parents' house, we always have turkey. Love it.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Everything I ever feel I have to have, I usually wind buying b/c I'm too impatient to wait for it. So there's nothing I really need...but a few things I wouldn't mind having. I gave my sister the run down.

26. Favorite thing about Christmas?
Being with family. Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the entire year!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Few Things

First, I just have to say how wonderful it's been to go over every detail of Twilight with all of my blog friends!!! Besides the two people I saw the movie with, none of my other friends or family have read the books or seen the movie (yet), so I've been getting my kicks out of this blog. And even though I didn't love the movie, I have LOVED reading everyone else's thoughts about it!

Next, my little cousin, Caitlyn, recently started her own blog: Living Love. I thought I'd do the same thing VP did for me and tell my readers about her and her blog so that she can expand her own blog-world! She writes about being newly graduated, a newlywed, and being newly relocated to Atlanta, GA. It's hard not to see her very much, but it's great to keep track of her through her blog :)

Also, I wanted to warn anyone who doesn't already know - I LOVE Christmas and you can be expecting a post about the holiday and my traditions soon. I actually can't believe I haven't posted anything yet, since I've been listening to Christmas music for over a week now (okay, two weeks).

Work has been crazy busy, and since my laptop is temporarily (I hope) on the fritz, I've only been able to keep track of this blog while I'm at work. So any gaps in communication from me can be directly related to my high attendance at recruitment events (and thus, not being in the office) or - the weekend. LOL.

Finally, I hope everyone has a great Turkey Day!! This meal is my favorite one of the entire year, so know that I will be gorging myself tomorrow!

Oh, and a P.S. - I STILL have not received my student teaching assignment. I did call the ED Dept. but the person I need to talk to has been and still is on vacation. My professor/advisor/head of secondary ed told me that it's not unusual to not know this far into the game. She doesn't understand that I have a black hole in my life beginning at the end of December and I need to know what will be happening during that time. My schedule is hectic up until I leave work and then...nothing. ARGH!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why, Oh Why?

So, I read the Twilight books on the recommendation of many people, including my wonderful blog friend, Vegas Princess. She loved the movie. I...did not.

For anyone out there who hasn't seen the movie or read the books, be forewarned, I will be talking about characters and scenes that I hated!!

Two colleagues (one a Twilight fan, the other just likes vampires) and I made a day out of going to see the movie on Saturday. We bought our VIP tickets, went to lunch, had a drink, did a wee bit of shopping, went to the movie. After the movie, the Twilight Fan (TF) and I were so disturbed we had to have another drink.

First and most importantly: WTF was wrong with the actor they picked for Jasper??? His eyes, his hair, his every odd movement and action...oh Lord. TF and I immediately turned to one another and started laughing.

Every time he came on screen, we could barely control ourselves - seriously, what was wrong with?? Someone needs to tell hair and makeup that the Cullens are the good vampires, including Jasper. I only hope he loses some crazy in the next three movies!


Secondly, we hated the choice for Carlisle. I had heard that Peter Facinelli was portraying him, and I actually thought it would be okay. I like PF, I've seen him in a few movies, and I thought it would be fine. It was not. He had horribly dyed blond hair and looked nothing like my mental pic of Carlisle. TF agreed with me, but my other co-worker, the non-Twilight fan (NTF) actually really liked him.

I was okay with most of the casting selections. I really liked Bella and Edward (although TF and NTF both hated the choice for Edward), which really is the most important thing. I also liked Charlie and Jacob. I did not like Billy - he had a funny, crazy eye thing going there for a scene or two, also.

TF and I are both people who MUST read the book prior to seeing the movie, and then never like the movie very much as a result, because Hollywood never stays true enough to the book. We always go on opening night to the newest Harry Potter movies, and then rip them apart afterwards, but this was worse than that.


Back to Twilight - the other things that I hated had to do with the content. First, it drives me CRAZY when they do things out of order for no particular reason. They did this a lot with the sequence of Bella & Edward's relationship. I hated that they cut parts out of the "meadow" scene from the book (and that it wasn't really in a meadow) and I think if they had left it verbatim, viewers who hadn't read the book would have had a better idea of why Edward and Bella were so drawn to one another. This is my favorite part of the book, and they totally ruined it in the movie.


Also, I hated the scene when Bella was supposed to be leaving Charlie. Where was the passion? The tears? The slamming of doors? Instead, she calmly slams one door, moves back and forth between the bedroom and the bathroom, and doesn't really give Charlie a reason for leaving. She doesn't even cry!! How are we supposed to know how broken up she is about leaving if she can't even shed a tear? Grrr....


Okay, I need to stop before I pick apart the entire movie! The sad thing is that I know I'll go see the next 3 when they come out! Hopefully I like them better :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh Lord...

Please tell me this is not what I'm in for as a future English teacher!!

A One-Two Punch Of Knowledge Knocks Marcy Out
Girl #1: Oh my god! Romeo and Juliet is a book!
Girl #2: It's like, Shakespeare.
Girl #1: Oh my god, who?

Borders Bookstore
Commack, New York

www.overheardeverywhere.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winery Tour

So, one of the many things that happened over my busy past few days is the annual winery tour that I organized. Three years ago, two of my friends and I spent a beautiful fall weekend at my parents' cottage, on Pymatuning Lake about 1.5 hours north of Pittsburgh.

We decided to go to two local wineries, and then ventured over the border into Ohio and visited a ton there. We wound up going to 10 wineries that day. I was driving, so I stopped drinking - I only took a sip here or there if my friends thought I'd like it. We had a blast, my friends were very tipsy, and we bought tons of wine.
After we came home, everyone we told about our weekend wanted to do something similar. So, last year, we got a group together and did the same thing. We wound up with about 16 people, we booked a (short) school bus, and were on our way. We had mimosas on the bus, lots of snacks, and visited five wineries in Northeast, PA (just north of Erie). It was a blast!

I know this pic is not the best, but it really gives you a beatiful glimpse of the short bus :)

After the school bus, more and more people wanted to join our fun. I mean, who wouldn't? What is there not to love about family and friends chugging around wineries on a short bus?
This year the trip was later due to everyone's busy schedules. My parents wound up not being able to come with us (b/c my dad doesn't pay attention when I tell him things) and a lot of people who committed early on wound up dropping out for one reason or another. At any rate, we wound up with a large school bus this year, and 15 friends. Once again, we had a blast!
There were a few stress & drama-filled moments for me that had me swearing up and down I would never organize another trip, but overall, it turned out great. We had originally asked for a large bus b/c we had so many people, and I tried the day of the trip to get us into a smaller bus to save some cash, but it turns out only the full sized buses can go out of state. Weird, huh?
We returned to the site of our original winery tour, chugging around Madison and Geneva, Ohio. We were on this wine trail, and we were on the section that forms a little "s" on the bottom left. There are 10 wineries in that area, but we only made it to six of them.
The bus was gigantic. Our driver Leigh was phenomenal until she got a little touchy at the end - not all of the parking lots were "bus friendly" and it started to snow as well.
My favorite wine came from St. Joseph's Vineyard. That's their logo (cute, huh?) to the right. I personally prefer dry and semi-dry wines, and I think I liked all of their wines that fall into those categories. In addition, the wife of the owner was the person who poured our samples, and she was amazing! Per Ohio wine, the vineyards are supposed to charge you for samples. She gave us all of our samples for free, and she knocked $5 off of the price of each bottle of wine we bought. That's good for business - we will definitely be back!
Another favorite location was Harpersfield Winery. They had a fire going that smelled out of this world good, and their tasting room was small but very cozy. A few of my friends ordered food, and that was delicious. Plus, their wine was delish! The atmosphere was so fantastic I had to remind myself to mention the wine, but it was a great place. Very chateau-esqe! That's the outside of the winery to the left, and the yummy fireplace to the right. Actually, I think the pic to the left is going to have a room or two available as a bed and breakfast in the spring. Great idea!
There was another winery where I really liked the wine, but the employees were not fantastic. I called every winery to make sure they were cool with us coming in with a busload of people (even though it wasn't full). If I didn't talk to a person, I left a voicemail. Everyone I spoke with was super friendly and happy for us to come.
The South River Vineyard was the exception. We had specifically remembered their winery b/c it is housed in an old church and is very unique. Plus, they have beautiful grounds, including a pavilion with a fireplace and adirondack chairs.
So, we arrive and march up the steps into the winery. We were particularly excited about this winery b/c we planned to take our snacks off of the bus and sit for awhile, eat, drink wine, etc.
The woman working the counter looked at us and said, "Wow. No one told us there was a bus coming." My friend said we could leave if they didn't want our business.
I don't think the employee heard her, but I told her that I had called to let them know we were coming, and if it was inconvenient, we would leave (there were not a lot of people in the winery, I don't know what they were worried about). At this point she back-pedaled and said it was fine. We tasted a few and bought some bottles. One of my friends bought an entire case for holiday presents.
I asked if we could unload our snacks and eat outside or inside at the tables. She said it wasn't a problem at all. So we went outside to start unloading and one of my friends overheard another exchange. A couple was walking into the winery and the guy said to the employee something about the bus. The woman told him we were leaving.
What? You just told us we could eat here, and now we're not allowed to stay?
We left. We probably would have anyway, since the weather was getting iffy and it was too windy to sit outside, but talk about unaccommodating. Why would treat a group who gave you significant business in such an unfriendly way? I guess I just don't understand. It's a shame, I'll probably never go back and their wine really is good. Oh well!

We didn't let it bother us. We visited another winery, Debonne, and were able to get in and taste right away. They even had a mini brewery for my cousin's boyfriend to enjoy, along with live music. Two of my friends immediately got on the tiny dance floor and made friends with the band, and the rest of us just hung out. We really had a great last winery. We drank a bottle of their yummy red wine with the best name: Cab/Cab (that entertained us for awhile) and then piled back on the bus to head back to the cottage.
Overall, it really was a good time. Everyone who went was fun and I think had fun. I think I'll probably do another year, although I may leave the planning up to my sister! My parents are sad that they missed it, so I think we'll have to do a repeat.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Waiting

Sorry I have been MIA lately...I was traveling for work Wednesday-Friday and the laptop I took with me would not connect to the Internet...then I was out of town and away from computers for the weekend as well. I've been trying to catch up on everyone's blogs and make comments but have not made it all the way through yet. But I'll read them, I swear!

So, I checked my e-mail once during the past five days, and I had received an e-mail from a classmate saying she received her student teaching assignment and where it was. So I raced home from Harrisburg to check my mail in the 3 hours I was in Pittsburgh before leaving again. Nothing.

Last night I came home from the Steelers game and glomped down to the mailbox again, still in all of my game gear (which was soaking wet from the rain and snow). Nada.

When is it coming? I don't like not knowing where the next four months of my life is going to be spent. I need to prepare myself as much as I can; I'm already nervous about teaching in general. I need to leave work in the next five minutes to go to class, so it'll be a few more hours before I can check the mail tonight. My schedule is crazy all week again, I have job fairs and will be in and out of the office every day this week (except for Wednesday when I'm not in at all). I can't bear the wait.

I was okay until I knew my classmate received her assignment. Now, it's torturous. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cranky People

I have a really hard time with people who just can't manage to be civil to others for no particular reason. I am the type of person who will be annoyingly friendly and upbeat 95% of the time, regardless of how angry you're making me. When you catch me during that other 5%, I'm usually just short or snippy, very rarely am I downright rude.

Of course, when I am on the phone with someone who is not understanding what I'm telling them or asking ridiculously stupid questions, I will vent when I'm off the phone. But I'm usually not rude to the caller.

So, it's particularly irritating when someone is unnecessarily rude to me. I'm leaving tomorrow for Harrisburg for a 3-day job fair - it's the only big one I go to every year, and I always look forward to taking the small trip. We have a corporate "executive assistant" (EA) who registers us as a system for all recruitment events, orders all giveaways, etc. She asked me to stop by to pick up the materials I'll need for this particular event, despite the fact that she has couriered all of the other materials I've used all year over to me (our offices are not far from each other, but are not in the same building or complex).

I planned to go yesterday, but wound up running out of time on the way to yesterday's recruitment event. So I figured I'd get them today when I leave - EA typically works 8-5, so I could just stay late, make sure everything's under control for my back-up, and pick them up on my way home.

EA left me a voicemail saying that she didn't know when I was picking up the supplies, but that she had to leave today at 2:00 PM and I needed to pick them up no later than 1:30 PM. She left this message at about 11:30 AM, leaving me a small window of time to do so. Now I would have to validate my parking, drive to pick up the supplies, re-park, and have to validate my parking again when I leave. Not a huge deal, but it makes me feel bad having to validate my parking twice in the same day.

Optimistic me decides to look on the bright side. I ask a few co-workers if they want to come along for the ride and then we can all go to lunch at a local German restaurant. I send an e-mail to EA (approximately 15 minutes after she left the voicemail) and tell her I'll be there in about half an hour, and that I'll call when I'm on my way.

I start calling from the parking garage. Her phone is forwarded to her voicemail. I continue to call for the 5 minutes it takes to get to her building. She never answers. I try to track down another person in her office so that she can tell the EA I'm on my way. The other person also doesn't answer.

So we arrive and my 3 colleagues go into the building to try to find the EA. They arrive and find EA eating her carrot sticks for lunch. She is extremely huffy, saying that I was supposed to pick the stuff up yesterday, she didn't get my e-mail b/c she was eating, and her phone was forwarded b/c she's at lunch. She grabs the boxes and starts slamming them around for my co-workers. As she gathers the materials, she tells them to make sure I know to return her cart as soon as I return from my trip.

My colleagues have to use the loading dock to exit the building b/c they can't go out the front door for some reason. The lift is broken, and they have to carry all of the boxes and the cart down a flight of stairs. The EA's cart has her name taped to the handle. After lunch, I have an e-mail from EA telling me that my co-workers didn't seem happy and reminding me to drop off the cart when I return.

Is this situation ridiculous to anyone else, or just us? I know if I were leaving for the day at 2:00 PM, if I even ate lunch, I would do so while answering my phone and keeping up with my e-mails. I'm determined to open a mini moving company just so I can use the cart over and over again and never return it. I'm not sure why she needs it - maybe she wheels paperwork down the hallway?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween

These are just a few pictures from my fun weekend. My friend had a party on Friday night and we had a blast!
These are two of my friends, dressed as Twister and Bam Bam. How cute is that Twister dress?? She had the spinner on a little hat but didn't really wear it b/c it wasn't comfortable.
My friend Speechy and I were hipsters on Friday night. We created and rehearsed our definition for anyone who didn't know what a hipster was: "They think everything is ironic. They only watch Indie movies and listen to Indie music. And they're taking over our neighborhoods!" We wore clothes that didn't match, tights, glasses, scarves, and had face tattoos. And of course we drank PBR all night (Pabst Blue Ribbon)! My hair is particularly messy in this picture. Hipsters don't bathe for long periods of time - we weren't willing to go that far, but I put tons of hairspray in my hair and tried to make it as messy as possible. At one point it was in a "hipster pouf" but it didn't stay up for very long. My hair is definitely not aerodynamic!





This is my co-worker and her hubby (the same ones who were in the other LBS at the Steelers game). They were dressed as Bill and Sookie from the new HBO show True Blood. Sookie was up all night making her outfit - she even created True Blood bottles and a waitress tray. You can't tell from this picture, but her t-shirt does have a little "Merlotte's" logo on it. How cute is that? I don't have HBO so I haven't seen the show, but I've read all of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books. I have issues with the differences between books and movies, but that's for another day!


We were in the basement for a large portion of the party playing flip cup. It was boys against girls and one of the guys was dressed as the cowbell guy from the SNL skit (another guy was the Christopher Walken character, but he wasn't playing with us). We were all obsessed with the cowbell, as you can kind of see from this picture - he would play it and we would clap and chant for everything ("Flip cup, flip cup;" "Bathroom break, bathroom break;" "PBR, PBR"). It was out of control but SO fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Luxury Box Suite

Okay, I started writing this forever ago and have just been waiting for my sister to upload my pictures so I could post it. She still hasn't done that, but one of my friends who was with us did, and I've included some of hers instead :)

So my friend (I'll call her Speechy) and I were taking a walk last Wednesday and I asked her what her plans were for the weekend. She had a few goals: drink a pumpkin beer, buy her Halloween costume, and win Luxury Box Suite (LBS) tickets for Sunday's Steelers game. She had entered a raffle at her workplace and they only sold 50 tickets, so she had pretty good odds. I really hoped she would win too, since I haven't missed a home game since I moved back to Pittsburgh, but I didn't have the cash flow to buy a ticket (I naturally assumed she would invite me if she won!). I woke up on Thursday and watched the news, as I do every morning while I'm getting ready for work. The weather forecast said it would be unseasonably cold on Sunday. I thought," Wow, that stinks b/c it's a night game. Oh well, we won't feel it b/c we'll be in the box." And then immediately tried to un-think it - I didn't want to jinx her chances of winning!!!

As I'm sure you guessed, Speechy's ticket was pulled, and she won the raffle. She called me after work and I screamed when she told me. It was the most exciting thing ever - I had never been in a LBS, I was going to get to go the game, and really, winning anything is exciting! Of course, these tickets were the best prize ever. Speechy won 4 tickets, so she invited me and two of our other friends.

I knew Sunday was going to be the best day of my life. I couldn't wait to tailgate with my family and the whole tailgate crew. My dad has had season tickets for about 35 years now, so we're old hats. We're in the same location for every game, we grill yummy food and drink lots of beer. When the weather gets colder, we have a fire barrel to keep us toasty, and the home game that's closest to Christmas we celebrate the holiday with lots of singing and a tree that we hang beer cans on. Anyway, the tailgate was fun, as always. Speechy came down early to play, and we rounded up people to play flip cup around the world's smallest table. We also had my sister's lethal jello shots.

Finally, it was time to head into the game. Our anticipation was out of control - the four of us were so excited, we kept taking ridiculous pictures of us: with our tickets, walking to the stadium, etc. We got to go in a special entrance, which was amazing. Waiting to get into the stadium always takes forever and is a mad crush, so it was really nice to be in a quicker line! Then we were in a little lobby and took elevators up to the box level. The walkway where the suites were located had lots of Steelers pictures (past and present). We immediately saw tons of service people, waiters/waitresses, etc. who were very friendly and took kindly to the fact that I stopped every three steps to take pictures. This picture below is from the balcony/walkway overlooking the private box suite bar/restuarant.

Then - we arrived at the box. We pushed open the door and it was beautiful! First (and most importantly) we had our very own bathroom!! Anyone who's ever waited in the ridiculously long lines at any type of sporting event can appreciate how exciting that was! There was a small lounge area (a few chairs and table) and a buffet set up in the kitchen area. The rest of the people were already in the box, and they welcomed us and told us to help ourselves to food and drinks. Eek! We were so excited. We grabbed seats and I was awestruck by the view, by the boxes surrounding us, by the entire thing, really. We went through the buffet, got drinks and just sort of took it all in. We were pretty overwhelmed.

Since we were the last people in the box, we couldn't get four seats in a row, but we had two in front and two in back. My original seat was nice, but I couldn't see the entire field (I could actually only see a tiny sliver). They have glass on either wall so that you can see through the boxes on each side and to the field, but the glass had some sunglare on it, so it wasn't super easy to see out of. I watched the view on the scoreboard for awhile, and then one of the men in the box told us we could move over to the other side and we would see better from there. So we did, and it was MUCH better! This picture gives you an idea of what we could see from our new seats. Regardless, the view was amazing! I'm lucky enough to be spoiled b/c I sit so frequently in my Dad's seats, but the view was still pretty good. The weather was actually beautiful, but I can only imagine how nice it must be to sit indoors in the boxes during the freezing cold weather games!

The next exciting event was a visit from the Steelers mascot, Steely McBeam!! Yes, the mascot is super lame. The Steelers went 75 years without a mascot and then felt the need to create one for the anniversary celebrations. Like I said, lame. But, it was still exciting to see Steely's big yellow head in the LBS next door and try to coax him into visiting us afterwards! He did, and it was hilarious. Steely is super tall, very squishy, and carries a foam steel bar. We took pics of all of us with Steely, of each group of people in the box with him, etc. I'm just including a picture from when he entered the box so as not to be too repetitive!
During halftime we went to visit one of my colleagues who was in another LBS. Her hubby gets tickets to some games, and they wound up having last-minute seats for this one. His boss's wife was super nice, making us drinks (they had a wider variety of food/etc. than we did) and chatting with us. We stayed longer than we planned - they were on the exact opposite side of the stadium. On the way back from their LBS, we stopped at one of the many, glorious dessert carts in the hallways. They were unbelievable, stocked with the most lucious treats ever! One of my friends treated us to dessert and a yummy shot, and then we finally made it back to our own box.

We watched the rest of the game, and unfortunately, the Steelers lost to the Giants :( We could have played better and won, but I'm not dwelling on that, I swear! Overall, it was an amazing experience and I'm so grateful to my friend for inviting me. I will definitely never forget it.

The only other thing I have to say is that I don't think I would want to watch every game from the LBS. There's just something about being in the stands with all of the rest of the fans, surrounded by like-minded people, waving my terrible towel, and screaming my lungs out that can't be beat. All of that is kind of muffled in the LBS, and a lot of the other people in our box did not seem like they were huge fans. I think a lot of wheeling and dealing probably happens there, but beyond that it doesn't really have the energy of the rest of the stadium. And I definitely think my friends and I were most appreciative of the opportunity to be in the box - we were thrilled to be there, and the others seemed to take it in stride.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pens Vs. Steelers

So, last Thursday I was the lucky recipient of a free ticket to the Pens hockey game. My friend's dad got 4 tickets and she took me :) I haven't been to a Pens game since very early high school, and not to a hockey game since early college. I'm obviously used to football sporting events, since I've been to many many Steelers home games. Thus, there were a number of comparisons I was able to see between hockey and football that I thought I'd share!

1. Ice: Yes, the Penguins actually play on ice. Not sure who originally thought it would be a good idea to strap blades to their shoes, skate across frozen water and use a crooked stick to shoot rubberized plastic into a goofy net, but there you have it - hockey in a nutshell! It was very odd to be inside for an event (I really wanted them to open the roof!), and even stranger to be inside and still be cold!

2. Cup holders: There weren't any. What is that? Who can possibly balance a beer on their knees while jumping up to cheer for their team? I guess I'm not that talented. I suppose this has something to do with the fact that the Arena was built in the 1960s (although I know they had beer then) and didn't think to include them. I just hope that the new arena gives these the attention that they deserve!

3. Offsides: Okay, so there's offsides in football. I understand that rule, totally know what they mean when the referees call it. But there's also offsides in hockey. What the heck? I can't figure out this rule to save my life. My little cousin tried to explain it to me once, but despite his valiant efforts, I remain clueless. I know it was called once against us, and another time Sidney Crosby skated all the way back down into our territory for no reason that I could see before going back to aim for the opposing team's goal - I assume to avoid an offsides call? I think it has something do do with the blue lines...

4. Song Choice: There were waaay more songs played at the Pens game than there have been at any Steelers game I've gone to! Plus, who authorized polka as an acceptable music genre? I understand we're in Western Pennsylvania, but I'd rather see those eastern European roots come to fruition through delicious pierogies, and not through obnoxious music!! I actually felt like I was at a baseball game. There was a lot of visual stimuli happening the entire time.

5. Elvis: So, there was a guy sitting in front of me who was dressed as Elvis. He had on a white jumpsuit with gold sparklies, yellow-tinted glasses, sideburns, the whole works. And he was absolutely no fun. Now, if Elvis attended a Steelers game, he would be jumping around like a maniac, doing everything in his power to draw the attention of the cameras and make it on the jumbo-tron. The Pens Elvis just sat there. The camera guy actually was close by at the beginning of the game and had the camera trained on him, and still Elvis just sat. Seriously?? What's the point of dressing up if you're not going to have fun with it? Worse, I think he's a season ticket holder - some other attendees seemed to know him and were trying to get him to dance, but he wouldn't unless they bought him a beer (they didn't. I wouldn't have either).

6. Fights: So, I get that there are fights in hockey. And I get that fans love to see two big, burly guys pummel each other. But I don't get that the refs just stand and watch. What is that all about? I can appreciate that if they want to fight, they're going to fight. But for the refs to literally back away as soon as a duo starts to circle one another or pull of their gloves seems just a little to accepting to me. I couldn't get over how they let this keep happening.

So, my conclusion is that Steelers football will for sure remain my favorite sport. I understand the fans, the rules, the stadium much better than I'll probably ever appreciate the Civic Arena. I'm happy I got to see a Pens game, especially before they rip down the Arena to make way for the new one. The Pens wound up winning the game, thanks to a rally in the third period that was super exciting. And keep an eye out for my next post, when I talk about the pinnacle of a Steelers fan's game attendance - I got to spend Sunday's game in a Luxury Box Suite!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Six Random Things

Yay, VP tagged me!! It's been a few days since I posted and I've been missing from cyberland overall (very exciting things happening in my life...keep an eye out for my next post and all will be revealed!). Anyway, here's my response:

1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Blog 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag Six Random Things

1. I LOVE strawberries. They are by far the queen of all things fruity. How can you resist their plump redness? And the taste - yum! My sister and I always wanted my mom to buy us strawberries year round and never understood how expensive they were in Southwestern PA out of season. To this day, every time I have them I consider it a treat.

2. I just finished participating in an Allergy Study here at my hospital. I joined it b/c one of my nursing directors was doing it, and I figured the extra cash couldn't hurt. The study was for people who are allergic to ragweed, and I had to take the medicine daily for almost six months. At the initial visit, I found out I was allergic to cats, grass, dust mites, and ragweed. The study was fine, but the medicine tasted horrible and I had a really hard time forcing myself to take it every morning. But - now I think I probably had the actual medicine and not the placebo b/c ever since the study ended, my allergies have been terrible!

3. I am very big on family traditions. My favorite day of the entire year is Christmas Eve. My entire life, we've always spent the early evening with very, very close family friends and then gone to mass. After church, we head to my paternal grandparents' house to eat and exchange gifts with that entire side of my family. I am extremely close to my cousins on that side of the family, and we always sit upstairs and sing Christmas carols and stare at the presents and yell at the "adults" to come upstairs.

4. Okay, I'm kind of cheating, as this kind of relates to my last random thing, but it's my blog, so there! The other Christmas Eve tradition we have is that my Grandma always buys all of the cousins a set of pajamas. After the gifts are opened, we all change into our PJs and lounge around in them before wearing them home. Last summer, my sister, my cousin and her boyfriend, and I all went to Orlando to visit my other cousin. My Grandma sent summer PJs with my sister for all of us to open, along with really funny (and rather uncharacteristic) notes. We loved it!

5. I have a "thing" for textures. I love to touch things and to pet materials. When I first started at my current job, I would always pet peoples' clothing if the material looked smooth or unusual. Okay, by pet, I mean I would just feel the material. This was completely normal for me - my friends and I have done this to one another for years. However, my co-workers thought (and still think) it was hilarious. Over three years later, they've finally gotten used to it, but they still occasionally refer to me as "The Petter!"

6. I have a fairly recent weakness for handbags. Four years ago I took my first trip to NYC and totally got sucked into the scandalous, illegal purse buying on Canal Street. It was the most thrilling thing! We would go into a stall selling jewelry, mention we were looking for Coach, and the little man would make sure his lookout was posted before opening up the back wall and letting us into the secret room, covered with designer imposter bags. Amazing!! After our first purchase, we had our booty encased in the plain black plastic bags (we call these "scandal bags"). These carriers identified us to all of the other salespeople as purse-buyers, and we couldn't walk four steps without being propositions.

Okay, now I have to tag 6 people, and I don't have a lot of blog friends so here goes:
Andi
Szia! Robyn
jellybean
Shades
CruelShoes
Kristen & Seth