California Love

California Love

Today was my last day with our customer, which was kind of good because I’m exhausted from all of the stress from the last few weeks (months?), the travel, and the presenting. I had a huge stabbing headache for much of the day, which made working suuuuuper fun. Although the people who work for my customer are very nice (they almost always are), I’m actually looking forward to a day full of travel because nothing will be expected from me. What I’m not looking forward to is leaving the hotel at 4am to get to the airport on time, but that’s a different problem entirely.

Today, though, I celebrated the end of my trip with one of my coworkers and we went to a place called The Chef’s Table for dinner. We didn’t have a reservation, so we had to sit at the bar with a limited menu, but wowwee was it delicious!

I started with a blood orange Moscow mule and it helped take the edge off my headache. From there, we shared pesto fries which were stupid good – I don’t know if I was just incredibly hungry or if they really were that amazing, but neither of us could get enough of them.

For dinner, we got the same thing – the fried chicken with mashed potatoes, carrots (“This looks like a Wolverine chicken dish,” my coworker remarked), and bacon gravy. Yes, BACON. GRAVY. It was exactly as ridiculous and astoundingly delicious as it sounded. This meal was hands-down the best thing I’ve eaten in months, and I’ve had a lot of good eats lately.

After dinner, I headed to a local mall so I could try taro ice cream. It took me forever to find the ice cream stand – I literally walked by it about 10 times before I realized the nondescript kiosk in the center of the mall was the ice cream place – but eventually I found it and gave the taro ice cream a try. I got the smallest scoop available and it was just right – just enough to give me a good taste of it without filling me up too much. Taro was… interesting. It was good, but it almost tasted marshmallow-y to me. This is why I enjoy work trips, though – I get reimbursed for meals, so traveling is a great excuse to try new things!

Time to start packing so I’m ready to go in the morning. Although I’m leaving at 4am, I won’t be back in Pittsburgh until after 5pm. FUN TIMES. But at least I won’t have to actively work! πŸ™‚

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Going Dutch

Going Dutch

Many moons ago, I had a friend who was obsessed with Dutch Bros coffee. Apparently it’s a huge deal out here in California, and there are two types of coffee people: Dutch Bros and Dunkin Donuts. I’ve firmly established that I’m not a Dunkin Donuts person, so I figured I’d give Dutch Bros a try this morning. It took me driving 13 minutes out of the way from the hotel and another 10 minutes driving to our customer’s site, plus a fairly long wait, but I eventually got my Annihilator cold brew this morning and I have to say, it’s MUCH better than Dunkin. I could never make it a regular habit – too much sugar, and way too expensive ($6 for one coffee), but it was tasty and it kept me awake through the earlier-than-normal wake-up, presenting through most of the day, and even an hour’s worth of volunteer drama. Sorry, Dunkin people, but you have no idea what good coffee is.

We started early, worked straight through lunch, and then worked late, so I was more than ready for a hot meal and a stiff drink by the time we finally managed to escape. Not to mention the fact that I had to present on totally new-to-me material today (eek!)… I did well, but it was nerve-racking. So when it came time for dinner plans, the team started talking about options and I quickly said I had other plans – I’m anti-social like that. But they asked what my plans were and then they just kind of invited themselves along… so I had dinner company. It was okay, though; there was much less work talk this evening (I was afraid it would be a repeat of last night… luckily, it wasn’t). We went to a place called The Monk’s Cellar and I got moules frites. It was actually my second choice, but I’m saving my first choice for dinner tomorrow night. The moules frites were good, and my vodka soda did the trick. In no time, I was chatting away like a regular non-anti-social person. Thank goodness for vodka.

One of our customer contacts came with us to dinner and he sat beside me. He lives in Houston, so we naturally got to talking about Hurricane Harvey. It was soooo weird to have the two worlds colliding – work and volunteer – with a customer. He had a lot of stories to tell and so did I, so it was kind of awesome to hang out with him. Especially after the volunteer phone call I had earlier in the day – it was nice to have something bring me back to earth and to my reason for doing what I do.

After dinner, everyone went their separate ways. I, of course, went to get ice cream. I went to a place called The Parlor Ice Cream Puffs, where I was treated to a half-off donut ice cream sandwich. The first time I had a donut ice cream sandwich was in Dallas on a previous business trip a few months ago, and I spent a lot of time with the local volunteers and staff in that volunteer office. It only seemed fitting that I’d spend my evening talking about hurricanes on another business trip and then cap off my night with my second-ever donut ice cream sandwich. The donut part of this one was just okay – again, donuts aren’t my most favorite food ever – but the ice cream was ridiculous. I got Thai iced tea ice cream and it tasted just like Thai iced tea (whodathunkit?). It was sooo good. I’d get the ice cream again; just not the donut. As it was, I only ate about half of it before I gave up. They lured me in with the half-off special, but I really only wanted the ice cream.

Now I’m sitting on my gigantic hotel bed, trying to decide if I want to open my emails or turn on Netflix. Either way, morning is going to come too soon (another crazy-early day tomorrow), so neither option is going to last long!

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Tour of the Highlands

Tour of the Highlands

Today was a very full day of work (too full), and I’m pretty pooped. I had it pretty easy today, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t working. While I was sitting in kickoff meetings, I was juggling some problem customers. Luckily, I didn’t have much to present today, but I’m a little afraid for tomorrow and Wednesday – it was rough juggling the kickoff and problem customers today without much responsibility, so I’m not looking forward to presenting all day tomorrow and Wednesday and still having to juggle problem customers.

I thought I’d get a break after our sessions were over today, but we had a mandatory team dinner that someone planned. Normally I don’t mind those things, as people are anxious to drink and talk about something other than work, but not this trip. These people I’m traveling with are all work-work-work people and we discussed customer strategy throughout the entire dinner. Plus, we were seated outside under a tent and it was chilly and raining, so I wasn’t exactly in my best mood. Needless to say, as soon as half the table ordered coffee, I grabbed the coworker who drove with me and we peaced out.

Since I was the one driving, I made the executive decision to stop back at Costco to get the Scotch I’d been mulling over. My coworker wasn’t opposed (though he was a little confused as to why I was sightseeing in Costco), and he ended up buying two bottles of his own. Then I took him to Trader Joe’s and introduced him to their cheap liquor, beer, and wine, and we both purchased even more. In the end, I bought a bottle of Oban 14 year Scotch, Trader Joe’s brand 14 year Scotch, and a bottle of Amaretto. I plan on having a little tour of the Scottish Highlands when I get home and then capping it off with a little touch of Italy. I’m already looking forward to it.

Though, if tomorrow and Wednesday involve mandatory team dinners, I might have to break into those bottles a little early. I’m not sure how much togetherness I can stand if we have to talk about all work all the time. 😦

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Folsom Prison Blues

Sacramento, CA: Day 1

Why hello there, friends!

I didn’t realize I hadn’t posted last night until I was in Minneapolis this morning, and at that point it was too late. Whoops.

I spent a little over 8 hours traveling today, starting at way too early o’clock. For some reason, I don’t remember previous flights to the west coast taking so darn long – I thought they were more along the lines of 4-5 hours… but nope. Ah well.

Sacramento, CA: Day 1

Eventually, I made it to Sacramento, California and then proceeded to get into my usual business trip shenanigans. πŸ˜‰

The first thing I noticed about Sacramento is that they’re really into that #yolo life.

Sacramento, CA: Day 1

Breweries, roads, buses, etc… Yolo!

I do understand it’s the name of the county I’m staying in, but I think it’s pretty hilarious. It makes me think maybe these Californians have life figured out. And then I remember every single person I’ve ever worked with from California, and I remember how much I hate everything about this state (in terms of its people and their attitudes). Let’s just say that yolo isn’t how any of the people I’m thinking of would describe their lives.

But I digress.

I didn’t have too much time to see sights and do stuff since I got in at around 2pm, but I did get around a bit.

Sacramento, CA: Day 1

One of my first stops was the capitol building, simply because that seems to be a thing I do on trips these days. From there, I walked around a bit and saw Old Sacramento and Tower Bridge, which made me feel right at home with its bright yellow paint. Of course I managed to stop by the local Red Cross (look at that excitement on my face!) and while I saw an unusual amount of cars there for a Sunday afternoon, I didn’t see any people. Weird.

The place I was most excited about visiting, though, was Folsom Prison. I inherited my love of Johnny Cash from my dad and it drives my mom crazy any time the three of us are on a road trip together. Folsom Prison Blues is actually my ringtone for my dad, and when I discovered how close the prison is to where I’m staying, I knew I had to take a little trip. I drove onto the road where the prison is housed, but I was afraid to go too far. I kind of regret that now, because as I drove by I saw the enormity of the place. I was dumbfounded; I think it might be the largest structure I’ve ever seen. I’m curious how far they let visitors go, and there’s even a Johnny Cash Trail; if it hadn’t been getting dark, I would’ve tried to explore more. Maybe I’ll get let out of work early one day and I’ll get to see more of it… but even if I don’t, at least I got the highlights of the experience.

Sacramento, CA: Day 1

As for food, I didn’t go as all-out crazy as I normally do – I think the time change threw me off. I did stop at Spinner’s for a cinnamon roll (breakfast tomorrow!), and after a few hours of exploring, I found a Jimboy’s Tacos thanks to Mary’s suggestion. That held me over through Folsom, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Target, and some other random shopping… which, geesh, I’m totally checking my bag on the way home. I found a bottle of Scotch I’ve been wanting since Omaha two years ago and it was at Costco for at least $40 cheaper than the PA liquor stores. Plus, Trader Joe’s has liquor here; not just beer and wine… and they have their own 14-year Scotch that I’m curious about… AND a large bottle of Amaretto for $6.99. I need to make friends in California who make frequent visits to Pittsburgh.

After all that, I tried to grab dinner at my #1 choice, but their kitchen closed at 8. Instead, I walked next door and snagged a sushi bar table and enjoyed some maki rolls and sake (maki & sake!) before heading to the hotel.

I’m honestly not sure what to expect tomorrow and the rest of the week, but at least I can stay in one place for a couple days! πŸ™‚

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Five Things Friday: 11/10/17 Edition

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Hi, friends. The regular work week is over and now it’s time for the weekend. For most of you, that probably means fun. For me, that means more insanity. So yeah, I’m not feeling very rah-rah at the moment.

But! I did have today almost completely off, and it was very much needed. It didn’t turn out quite the way I’d expected, but at least I wasn’t doing my full-time job. Yay.

  1. Currently Reading: I downloaded and started reading Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, but I’ve been having trouble getting into it. I haven’t gotten far yet, but I’m determined to stick with it. I remember I really liked To Kill a Mockingbird when I read it in high school, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this one once I start getting into the rhythm.
  2. Currently Eating:Β Nothing hot or hard for the next few hours. I had a dentist appointment this afternoon to get a crown put in, and I’ve been told not to mess with it. It feels weird and to be honest, the bite feels a bit off, but it’s going to have to do for now. It’s also a little painful at the moment, so hopefully some Tylenol PM will take the pain away and help me sleep.

    I’ve had a ridiculous amount of leftovers from work this week. Due to the training session, we had lunch provided every day instead of just Wednesday and Thursday. In fact, on Wednesday we had our regular lunch and our special training lunch. Since I’m incapable of eating a full meal at work, I always bring my leftovers home for dinner later in the week. I’m still working my way through all of them from this past week, and I might actually have trouble finishing them all off before I leave on Sunday morning. Oops!

  3. Currently Watching: My co-bartender mentioned that he’s been watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and loving it, so I started watching. I like Eugene Levy, and Catherine O’Hara’s okay (though I kind of hate the way her character speaks), but the son’s character, David, is my favorite. Fun fact: Eugene Levy’s son, Daniel Levy, plays himself (but named David) on the show. I like the fact that each episode is only about 20 minutes long, which means I don’t feel stuck if I’m tired and want to shut it off early. Short shows are the best.
  4. Currently Loving: My bed. I put my winter comforter on it, along with my heated blanket. I haven’t broken out the flannel sheets just yet – maybe next week – but the added weight of the heavier blankets means that I feel super comfy and cozy in my bed these days. That hasn’t been helping me sleep, but at least I’m comfortable.
  5. Currently Anticipating: December. I’m working exactly four days at my full-time job through the month of December thanks to both our vacation policy and the fact that I hoard vacation like a squirrel hoards nuts. Despite the fact that I was out for almost two weeks for the hurricane, and I took sporadic days off throughout the year, I still ended up with 18.5 days to take between now and December 31. So I’m taking some time off around Thanksgiving, and then I’m taking most of December off. Of the four December days that I’m working, there’s free lunch on all of them, and one of them is the same day as our holiday party (which, like last year, is also the same day and time as my volunteer holiday party). It’s been torture getting to this point, but December might be kind of awesome.

    But for right now, I have other fish to fry. Namely:

    1. I might be stepping down as our disaster Lead because I just can’t handle all of the frustration and arguing anymore. It seems they want a Lead, but in name only; not someone who has ideas and who wants to change things for the better.
    2. I have to work at a huge wedding tomorrow and I’ve been told that we’re going to be outside even though it’s going to be super-cold. FUN.
    3. As soon as I get home from the huge wedding, I need to finish packing.
    4. I leave at 7am Sunday morning for a flight to Sacramento for work.
    5. Most of Sunday is free and I’ll be in California, so it might not be the worst day ever.
    6. Monday through Wednesday I’m attending an extremely intense customer kick-off, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. I’m not at all prepared thanks to the training session and the disastrous state of my work accounts this past week, and everyone knows not to expect much from me. But I’m being forced to present things I’ve never worked on before, so I’m a little nervous. I normally love kick-offs, but I’m really abnormally anxious about this one.
    7. Thursday I need to be at the airport by about 4am PST, and then I’ll be flying and in airports / layovers until about 5pm EST. At that point, I’m expected to attend a board of directors reception for the volunteer team, but I’m not sure how likely that is to happen. First off, I’m going to be exhausted. Second, if any of my flights are delayed, I won’t be able to make it. Third, I’m just not feeling like I want to suck up to the board of directors right now. And fourth, while I always want to spend time with my fellow volunteers, there are going to be people there that I’m actively trying to avoid. So. Not sure if the reception is going to happen.
    8. Friday I’ll need to get caught up on all of the work I missed all week.
    9. Saturday I have another huge wedding at work.
    10. Sunday we have yet another enormous event at work.
    11. But then things start to get back to normal on Monday 11/20, except I have a volunteer orientation that night.
    12. I’m already exhausted thinking about this coming weekend and week, and it’s not even here.

Hope you get a chance to relax in my place this weekend and upcoming week, because I clearly have no time for that nonsense. πŸ˜‰

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Not Moving

Not Moving

The first of two dreaded November weeks has mostly come to an end and I’m taking some much-needed rest on the couch.

Last night, I was so exhausted and stressed out that I had auditory hallucinations after the volunteer orientation. I was positive there were people down the hall talking, but there was no one there. We have motion-sensing lights, so it was obvious that no one was around except me, but I also searched every room just to be sure. I was legitimately cracking up. I did not like it one bit.

I did get to sleep a little last night, but my wakeup came much too early again. And then once I got to work, I learned that pretty much all of the resources on my other projects were out of the office and I was stuck in training, so every customer issue was escalated to me (and again, I had to do technical work). As you might imagine, that was stressful. I didn’t even have time to do volunteer stuff during lunch today since I had to handle issue resolution. Gross. (Though I later sent some emails after I got home.)

Our training class eventually ended and I went straight home, but I still had plenty of work to do until well into the evening.

But now I’m calling it quits and I’m curled up on the couch in my heated throw (best purchase ever, btw), watching Netflix, and hoping I don’t have to turn on my computer for work until Monday morning (at which point, I’ll be in California for a work trip for dreaded week #2). I don’t plan to leave the house until tomorrow afternoon when I have a dentist appointment, and even then, I plan on coming straight back home and resuming my position on the couch (or in bed). I’m trying to be in bed by 10pm both tonight and tomorrow in the hopes that I can make myself a little more normal before I have to travel.

On the plus side, next week is my last full week of work for the year, so a break is coming soon. I might have a different kind of break before then (of the psychotic variety), but December is looking pretty nice. Thank goodness.

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