Monday, April 27, 2009

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

In keeping with the theme of song-title-titled-posts (sorry, Tony Bennett, to categorize you with the Drew Carey Show theme song; and sorry, Ian Hunter, for not giving you credit for your own little ditty, but referring to it as "the Drew Carey Show theme song"), I had a quick last-minute business trip to the Bay Area last weekend that left me pining, ever-so-slightly, for palm tree vistas and a four-one-five area code.

I know! You just barely got to the point where you could leave your two-one-two in a voicemail without the awkward pause and shuffling for the number, Al. Let this need to move catch its breath!

It was less of a "want to move" moment, and more of a "want to collect homes in various locales" moment. Again, I know. I need to daydream in my pay scale.

I checked into my hotel and Eastern Daylight Allison was ready to hit the sack. But Pacific Daylight Allison (goaded on by Nibbling on Airplane Biscoff Cookies All Day Allison) couldn't resist the evening walk through North Beach in search of scenery and sustenance. I found both - but only managed one shot of the former and devoured any evidence of the latter.
Plus, I didn't linger long - airplane hair and my flight wardrobe (do you have these, too? The comfy duds that make sitting in a cramped space for 5 1/2 hours at least tolerable?) looked a little out of place among the uber-hip and well-coiffed.

Before I fell asleep that night, it dawned on me there was one San Francisco landmark I'd never seen that might make for a good morning run destination - the Painted Ladies Victorian houses at Alamo Square. I didn't know they were called that. I had to Google "famous victorian houses in San Francisco." And I was dangerously close to resorting to my first choice of search terms: "houses on the Full House credits." I wonder if the P'Ladies know their reputation, at least in my brain, has been reduced to the Tanner family picnic, the milk man and the paperboy.
I woke up the next morning at the crack of dawn and mapped out my run - (A quick aside - as I'd packed my bag for the trip, Noah looked on with quiet skepticism as I made room for my running shoes and attire. That extra outfit is quite the committment, you know. That sucker upgrades the overnight carry-on from the convenient over-the-shoulder type to the small rolling luggage type. So there was no way I wasn't going on this run.) four and half miles and a simple enough route. All was going well until I was distracted by this view:
And suddenly I found myself running along the pier for way too long. I realized I wasn't spotting any of the street names I needed and asked a local (who was not a local, but a tourist. She hid it well. But she did whip out a map; that'll do.) for directions. All was right in the run again until I re-routed to figure out what this building was:
All the while leaning on the silly notion that blocks were blocks, squares were squares and I'd see the street name I needed before long...

Seven miles later (glad I left in plenty of time!) - I found this:
And as I soaked in the scene and the city scape in the hazy distance I realized, "ah - crap. My hotel's in that hazy distance. I've gotta haul butt back there." (Aren't my conversations with myself poetic?) And I did, indeed, haul butt back to the hotel.
Not a bad day at the office.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cleveland Rocks.

Easter weekend, we jetted (well, more accurately Metro North-ed to our car in Connecticut and drove) to that most obvious of Spring Break destinations - Cleveland, OH.

Why Cleveland? You ask... What's in Ohio? You ask... What was the prize at the end of the route that kept you driving at 3:30 in the a.m.? You ask...

These adorable kiddos (although, I feel like I should call them "young ladies" or something - I can't believe how grown up these two are!).
And this one.
And this one.
Yes, that's right. I had to steal the latter two photos from their blog because we took five *count 'em* five pictures all weekend. And they were all of mostly the same thing. And this door.
We enjoyed the nicest weekend with Noah's brother, his adorable can't-believe-she-fits-in-those-jeans-after-kids wife, and their sweet girls.

The highlights included hijacking Caysie's date with the salon and finally getting my hair done (no, your eyes doth not deceive; a full month after the failed attempt at free blondeness, I finally got around to it), jumping rope with the girls, Caysie's cooking and eating like ki-ings, a Saturday morning run in the suburbs (no stopping for traffic!), the Easter party miss Ave hosted in her room, the primary Easter program on Sunday and a visit to see the temple and church history sites in Kirtland.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fort Night - 2009

He did it again. This man completely schools me in the sweet, romantic category.

I came home April 8th to this scene. And the fort night tradition holds strong.
I commented last year that it will be fun to see the setting of each year's fort, as a sort of snapshot inventory of what we were doing at that point in our lives. It's crazy to realize each of our forts has been in a different home. And that we didn't even celebrate Fort Night at two of our places (our SLC home and our short-term NYC place) because we didn't live in them during April.

What a ride. Glad I've got a good one in my camp.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ellis Island and the Sorensens

My Dad would be so disappointed in me for not having a guest book. Because March was a great month for visitors.

My TSG co-worker, Dan, and his adorable wife, Emi, came to the Big Apple a few weeks and we happily threw out the welcome mat. If you're fortunate to know this dynamic duo, you know Dan is hilarious and will always have you laughing and the lovely Emi is super-hip and looks like she belongs on a runway. So we spent the weekend laughing, feeling chic by association and feeling short :).
As part of their visit, Dan contributed a few guest posts to, so he snagged four free VIP tickets to visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island. I was giddy when they suggested it - Noah and I haven't been out there yet, and we were eager to go. It was incredible! I just wish we would have better anticipated the amount of time we'd want to spend there - we caught the last ferry back to Manhattan and still had lots more we would have loved to see and learn.

We found a delicious hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant (finally!) for dinner that evening, and while we ate we talked about what to make for dinner the next night (for, what is a meal except a forum to plan the next meal?). We were just a few blocks from several Oriental markets, so decided to pick up ingredients for curry and gyoza. You know the gyoza is going to rock your socks when you ask Emi what we need for them and she can list the ingredients without batting an eye.
Their trip was far too short - anyone who feeds me well in my own home is a keeper! - but we loved having the Sorensens here. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mr. Riley Goes to Washington

A few weekends ago, Noah and I took advantage of yet another great neighboring metropolis and enjoyed the kind hospitality of yet another crew of stellar friends with a trip to DC for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
I lived in DC a few years ago and it is, in fact, the scene of our engagement story. But as happens with most interns I was only able to enjoy four months, and consequently, one season in DC - hot n' humid. So when the peak of the festival coincided with an easy weekend to get away, we anxiously jumped at the chance.
We stayed with my former roommate, Melissa, her now-roomate (and husband) Jon and their new roommate (and offspring) Van. Can you even get enough of this little guy? I cannot.
Do you ever visit some place completely gorgeous and feel torn between wanting to capture it all and wishing you could enjoy it with your natural eyes without worrying about the camera? Well, then you should hang out with these people. Both Jon and Melissa possess wicked skills behind the lens, so we left their home with two discs of our Cherry Blossom experience. I'll pipe down and let the photos do the talkin'...

Our hostess with the mostest.

I really only put this on because I think my hair looks rockin' awesome in this shot. It must be said.

The day was absolutely gorgeous except for the wind - almost unlike anything I've ever experienced. When we took this photo, conditions were somewhat akin to sticking your head out the window on the freeway. Literally, I could not breathe in. And thanks to my cheesy, toothy grin in this shot, I'm still flossing dust out of my teeth. (And if any of my China gals read this blog - you can attest to how deeply I despise the wind. Worst. Element. Ever.)

As we drove into town, it occurred to me it had been nearly three years since I'd been to DC. The length of my absence was further reaffirmed when I absolutely could not get my bearings in the metro. And also when I realized they'd had time to built three monstrous spikes just beyond my old stompin' ground. It was really nice to visit the new Air Force and Pentagon Memorials while we were there. The Pentagon Memorial was especially stirring. Its design really drew out the personal stories of the victims for me. A lot of you may already know it, but it felt like new news to me - the memorial is essentially a grid of dates laid out by year. A bench is placed on the grid based on the victim's birth date. The benches for individuals who lost their lives in the plane face away from the Pentagon while the benches for those who were inside face toward the building. Those simple facts told such a story about the people, where they were, what they were likely doing, why they might have been in the building or on the plane. It was incredibly powerful.

Melissa and I also had the chance to catch up with another one of our DC roommates, the fabulous Kami. (Ashlee, Mindy - we'll all be in one place at the same time sometime!) What a great evening of catching up and being completely awed by the beautiful, talented, classy, intelligent women in my life. I was evidently so awed (or perhaps still relying on the Smith photography crutch!) that I didn't even think to snap a picture while we were all together. So instead, this shot cicrca summer '06...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tar Heels

This was the first year I've ever cared to fill out brackets for the NCAA tournament. Eh, "cared" is a stretch. This was the first year I was the only girl in the office and I didn't want my non-participation, combined with my office on the opposite side of the building from everyone else's, to further ostracize me.

It turns out, if you harbor feelings of spite toward a school that didn't accept you as an incoming freshie five years ago, so on principle you don't allow them to advance past the first round, but it turns out they have an extremely talented team... you will come in second to last.

Nice game, dudes. Nice game.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

GR_SSR_ _TS M _ _ _ M_ NT

Tonight is laundry night. That means hauling the dirty duds down six flights of stairs, down the street and across the intersection to the laundromat.

This laundromat does not mess around. There is a fully-loaded snack bar in this joint. But that's not actually the inspiration for this post. Instead, what inspired me to put pen to paper, or rather, to plant my digits on the home keys, was Pat and Vanna.

We walk into the laundromat where Wheel of Fortune is showing on 4 screens. The puzzle was nearly solved (see: above), so I half-mutter "grassroots movement" to Noah as we walk down the aisle to stake our claim.

Just then, I key into the audio as a contestant shouts out "grassroots monument."


Pat seems a little dumbfounded, but says no and moves on to the next contestant who asks for a "B."

Who are these people?

At this point, Pat (who I think might be jaded from too many years at the Wheel) audibly scoffs and says, "no, uh - there is not a B."

On to the next contestant who catches on, asks for a "v" and redeems the human race.

And so now I have a new life plan.

Go on Wheel of Fortune; be kind of intelligent; pay off our house.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Whoa, Sorry

It has been brought to my attention via several comments inquiring about the bag... I'm clearly a sub-par story teller. Yes! I grabbed the bag back. It was somewhere between the fire alarm and the blue streak. Sorry for the cliffhanger!

Of Fire Alarms and Stolen Bags

Remember a few months ago when I thought I broke my brain? Can it happen twice? All these stories about being stressed out makes me think maybe I'm just no good at handling stress. No, no - really, don't all object at once... ;).

This weekend was a genealogy conference at our church, which I was in charge of organizing. The term "organized" is open to interpretation and as far as being in charge of anything, let's just say the people around me learned a great deal of patience this weekend! On Friday evening, Noah and I met several others at the church building in order to set up for Saturday's conference.

By this point in the week, I was basically running on fumes. Work this week was all at once invigorating (my FIRST article in the New York Times!!), exhausting (last-minute show-us-what-you-can-do project from a major national client) and terrifying (a new client prospect who asked me point blank if I was qualified at all), and I would have been thrilled to spend the weekend in pjs reading a book on the couch. But duty calls - and by approx. 9:30 Friday evening and a full-on sprint to Staples to get my photocopies before they closed, the church was nearly ready for go-time. As a last-minute detail I hauled the vacuum down to the lobby wanting to make the foyer as presentable as possible for the next day's guests. Ah, famous "one last {insert};" isn't that always when the fun starts... or someone breaks an arm?

The lobby opens by two separate sets of doors to a busy street corner, so I asked Noah to stand in the foyer with me just in case anyone knocked or approached. At times, it's been a bumpy road for our church in the community, and the church building has been vandalized/robbed in the past.

Well, I really set myself up for this one, and in a brief moment of Noah being distracted by a phone call, a woman knocked on the door. I opened it just a crack and asked if I could help her. She seemed a little annoyed and said she was meeting Sister Brown (in our church, we refer to one another as "brother" and "sister"). Split-second decisions are not my forte, because as I weighed the options - "not sure I feel entirely comfortable letting her in..." versus "yeah, but I don't really know the members of the other ward, and there are a few people up there, what if I seem really harsh and judgmental by not believing her?" - she brushed by me and headed through the foyer to a second foyer and the elevator. Just then, a gentleman from the other ward came into the foyer and asked if I knew the woman I'd just let in. Immediately I felt a pit in my stomach and foolish for not being more careful or cautious. He headed up to the second floor to see if he could ask her more questions while Noah and I waited by the stairs in case she came back down.

She came back down a few minutes later, at which point I told her I was pretty sure everyone had left for the evening and requested that she leave. She headed back toward the elevator, this time seeming very threatened and unstable - yelling at me not to follow her and rambling incoherently about a number of topics. The elevator door shut and my anxiety began to boil.

Moments later, the fire alarm began to shriek. Each ear-piercing tone threatening to set me over the edge. I did what anyone would do when an alarm goes off - I started wrapping up the cord to the vacuum - needing to channel my stress into accomplishing something, anything. The men helping set up the tech needs on the second floor rushed down, demanding to know what triggered the alarm – smoke? Fire? And then of course, there’s the little kid with a bouquet of 9-10 balloons who came hustling past. The whole scene was a bit of a blur – too many stimuli for my little head to soak in.

In the madness, the woman descended the stairs a second time and shoved past me in the narrow hallway leading to the front foyer. I’d lost my patience and finally told her, “ma’am – I really need you to leave.” She yelled something back as she pushed open the door just as I realized she was carrying my bag! No big deal, just the bag with my laptop, credit cards (both), checkbook (when do I ever carry this much stuff?), cell phone, keys. I panicked realizing if I recognized the bag she was carrying, what else might she have in her pockets that belonged to someone else? I begged Noah to help me confront her about it, which set off a blue streak I haven’t heard in a long time (from the woman, not Noah…). The words you hate to overhear on a subway platform or street corner, let alone when they’re being hurled at you intentionally. Her coat fell open enough for Noah to determine she didn’t have much else in her possession, so he corralled her toward the door until she was finally on the opposite side of the double paned glass.
I needed to escape the scene, so I gathered the vacuum and hauled it back upstairs to the custodial closet. As I came back and rounded the hallway, I came upon the second story foyer (whole lotta foyers in this story…) and couch where my things had been. My running shoes were dumped from the bag they’d been in, my makeup bag was apart from the crowd, a general feeling of gone through-ness hung above my stuff. It was then that I glanced out the second story window and saw the fire engines responding to the alarm.

And that’s when I started to bawl.

You have a very limited window to make an impression around new crowds. And now I'm afraid I might have earned the "crazy emotional lady" title around church. :)