Monday, October 24, 2011

California Dreamin'

Usually when Mark alerts me of an upcoming business trip, he's requesting my services as a dog sitter, so when he told me about an upcoming conference in San Francisco...and then offered to fly me out to join him for the weekend, I was immediately concerned for the dog's well being.

Or maybe not.

I had a few weeks to revel in the excitement of our upcoming getaway (and wrangle a kid weekend swap -- thanks, Mr. X). And as the big day grew near, I got my work-ducks in their work-rows, packed my purple boots and was on my way.

I hopped my flight, didn't miss any connections and even chose the correct train and ended up in the right part of the City by the Bay. Google maps told me to take a trolley up to the hotel, but the waiting line was prohibitively long and my amazing pocket computer's map said I was only 0.8 miles from my destination, so I hoofed it. Up a hill. I'm serious. This was a hill. No, really. A hill.

When I got to the top of Nob Hill, I took a moment to stop panting before entering the posh Fairmont Hotel. Mark was wrapping up his last session of the day so I headed back out (sans suitcase) and strolled through the neighborhood for a bit before I joined him for a cocktail reception. Our weekend had begun!

That evening we set out for dinner in a cab, but opted to return via cable car. I nestled into Mark as we climbed the hill in the evening breeze and savored one of those romantic movie moments that a young girl dreams about. A gorgeous night in an amazing city clutched in the arms of my true love...swoon.

The next morning after a cappuccino, we managed a 12-mile run through the city and along the bay coast. It was quite a treat to be enjoying new scenery, sounds and, well, smells. We made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge, turned around and eventually headed through more of the city so we could finish at the amazing Blue Bottle coffee shop for a much needed caffeine boost. Again intending to take the cable cars up to the hotel, we found a massive line, so opted to walk, weary legs and all. Then Mark had a brilliant plan: We should run the hill. Always up for a challenge, I gave chase and we trudged up Mason Street, much to the amusement of those making their way down.

As we cleaned up, Mark asked if there was anything I'd like to do while in the city. My response? Go to a thrift store. Mark suggested we consider seeing the massive redwoods. (I suppose a thrift store can wait.) We soon took off for Muir Woods to stand among trees that have seen a millennium and then some. Our legs fussed a bit, but the forest was awe inspiring.

We snuck in a nap once back at the hotel but had to make it a short one -- we had dinner plans. One of Mark's high school classmates lives in Oakland and promised to make us dinner. We arrived to a breathtaking view from their living room and fantastic company. Kathy and Tyrone proved amazing hosts and we enjoyed ourselves until way-too-late into the night.

The next day was a short one with little more on my agenda than coffee and to take Mark out for a thank-you lunch. At the same time, I was going to be a little selfish, wanting to be sure I could eat more than two menu items (Friday night's restaurant was surprisingly unable to comprehend my food sensitivity). Through the magic of Google, I found a completely gluten-free restaurant. When we arrived, it took all of my strength not to ask if each item was really GF. The menu was inexpensive, so we ordered one of almost everything, trying the various  fillings, toppings and breads inspired by Venezuelan cuisine. I was beside myself, eating without worry of being glutened. We ended up walking the two miles back to the hotel, which was a pretty good idea after eating half an acre of  corn[meal]. We also had several hours on an airplane ahead of us and our legs didn't fuss too much knowing we'd soon be sedentary.

We headed toward home with thoughts of a busy workweek on the horizon, but enjoyed a few more moments of relaxing together before we called it a weekend. I caught a vision of what it might feel like to lead a grown-up life -- one with getaways and vacations and adventures. I think after all these years of avoiding it, I'm ready to take the plunge into adulthood. Despite its challenges, it appears to have some decent perks.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Much Obliged

I've had a few moments lately of immense appreciation for my current financial position. While my job might end in February (it's a pilot, after all) and my wages are reflective of my employer's not-for-profit status, I feel a sense of security that I haven't known in years...or ever really.

A few days ago as I was nearing the Y, I passed a garbage truck and the men who work so hard to dispose of our filth and waste. I looked at myself, dressed to sit in an office and interact with fellow professionals and clients, and I was flooded with gratitude for my education. I'm pretty sure the sanitary engineers are earning more per hour than I am right now, but my future is bright (and less odorous). I will be able to work many more years, multiply my skill set and increase my income. I'm so grateful to have a degree.

And just last night when the two young ones expressed a need for school supplies and Halloween accessories, I was able to readily agree. It wasn't until I'd been wandering around WalMart for far too long that I realized how not stressed I felt. And there was that flood of gratitude again. Just a few months ago (and for most of my tenure as a parent), additional expenses, especially of the surprise variety, could put me over the edge. I can't count the times in the last two years I've had to deny my kids a $10-something because the household budget was so tight. It's not like I'm throwing cash around now, but to be able to buy the boy a hat for his field trip was enormously satisfying.

So while it's more or less a joke that I always offer the same pat response when a co-worker asks how I'm doing, it's true. Livin' the dream, folks. I'm livin' the dream.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I've decided that my ability to blog is lost. I've recently started several posts that are completely factual and inherently un-witty. This isn't good. I'm pretty sure one of the reasons I snagged my main man was that he could tell who I was from day one, having honestly chronicled my life for all to see in some sort of clever fashion. I'm not sure I have it in me anymore.

I'm thinking that time is so much harder to come by now that I'm employed than it was when I was a student. Don't get me wrong...being in college was soooo much harder than having a job. And while there was a finite amount of energy I could put toward researching and studying and paper writing, I still had time and wit at the end of the day for a post every now and again.

Though not nearly as mentally exhausting as school, employment is ridiculously time consuming. I make it to the end of my days and weeks with little more than dinner and maybe a light clean-up in me. Typing is just too much to ask of my keyboard-weary hands.

Sorry if you had your hopes up that I might actually say something...