Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Settling In

I haven't had the chance to write an update lately. It's been a crazy couple of days. Chef and I left Vegas at noon on Sunday thinking it would be a four and half hour trip. It was not. We knew it was going to be rough within the first couple of miles when traffic on I-15 was already backed up only about 5 miles outside of town.

The movers were scheduled to come in at 6 p.m. that night, so surely a 90 minute buffer would be plenty. But clearly it was not or I wouldn't be writing about it. At 6:30 that night, we were still almost two hours away from our new apartment AND Chef isn't supposed to drive at night. He has night blindness, so the prospect of driving into LA at night was not a good one. I had to stop to get gas and there happened to be a Best Western at the exit, so Chef and I decided that was a sign to stop.

The movers were nice enough to come the next morning. There was also a fatal traffic accident on the I-10 right before our exit, so there was a 90 minute delay the next morning getting to the apartment. Luckily, I had a Garmin to help steer us around it so we didn't get delayed the full 90 minutes. In the back of my mind, I heard every single person who told me that LA wasn't all that great because of the traffic (and it's expensive was the second most popular reason to stay away).

Anyway, the movers had it done in about an hour and we were unloading soon enough. Next, we went to Target to get some essentials and then back to the new place. I feel asleep pretty easily that night. One thing that Chef said he was going to have to get used to is the traffic noise. Our apartment is next to a busy street and there is never a time that it isn't busy. It was one of the trade-offs of the great place. The bitch of it was someone honking at 4 a.m. Who honks at 4 a.m.?

Aside from the honking, I have learned a few things: 1) this place would be much better if there were more left turn signals. 2) If you do get stuck turning left at a place with no turn signal, be sure to stick your car in the middle of the intersection and know that at least two cars must be able to turn left after the red light appears. I have a feeling that I will be a more aggressive driver the longer that I'm here.

This morning we woke up and wanted a long, hot shower. No dice. When we called maintenance, we found out that the entire complex had no hot water. Ugh. So, Chef and I unpacked more and made lists of things we needed. We also waited for the cable people to come. It wasn't until a little while ago when Chef configured it, that we had some other form of entertainment than our sparkling personalities. Now we have cable and internet. We have everything.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It was Grand and It was a Canyon

Yesterday was a long ass driving day. It didn't have to be, but Chef got it into his head that it was a 5 hour day (that's short in our terms) and that we could stop for some sightseeing before getting to the Grand Canyon. So we did.

First we stopped at the Petrified National Park in Arizona. It was some of the most beautiful scenery that I've ever seen. Although that seems to be a theme for this trip. It took about an hour to get out and drive and take pictures, but the vast nothingness and then weird peaks made it so worth it. I even made Chef get Genghis out of his carrier to snap a quick picture.

We made it closer to the Grand Canyon when the signs kept popping up for a giant meteor crater and I knew when I saw the first one that we'd be stopping there. Chef is into that kind of thing. So we stopped and gaped at the big ass divot a meteor made. Although to be fair, the meteor museum was really good comparitively. It had a lot of hands on exhibits that I really like because I'm a kid at heart.

By the time we got back on the road and then to our hotel, it was well after dark. The Red Feather Lodge, where we stayed, was kind of a hole, but a hole that was only about a mile from the Grand Canyon and one of the few places that took pets. We deposited the kitties and then made our way to Sophie's Mexican Kitchen a block away for food. I had my first Navajo Taco which is fry bread with beans, cheese, lettuce and I also had some chicken. It was the most delicious "Mexican" food I ever had.

We got up early again this morning and headed to the Grand Canyon. It was a breathtaking site. I didn't realize there were so many lodges in the park itself. It makes me want to go back and do the mule to the bottom and river rafting kind of expedition. Chef and I are already making our plans. Plus we really wanted to go to the Skywalk, but that's about 3 hours from where we were and a lot out of the way on our trek to Vegas.

Anyway, we spent a few hours at the Canyon and then loaded up again to head to Nevada. It was only about 4 hours away, so when we saw the Hoover Dam, we were all on it. We viered off and saw some more sights. By the time we got to Vegas, I knew what my agenda would be: massage (not of the happy ending variety), buffet and gambling.

Chef and I were lucky enough to be able to book a 50 minute couples massage at the Bellagio (thinking of you Anne and Amanda!!)--there was a cancellation as the reservations are usually booked 3 months in advance! We jumped on it and then decided we needed to get cleaned up and geared up at the hotel before hitting the buffet. So now I'm waiting on Chef to get ready and blogging briefly before I get my Kobe Beef on. I wore my jeggings (aka stretchy pants) just for the occasion. Diet starts on Monday.

This is the last stop before the final destination on the journey. Movers come at 6 p.m. tomorrow to help us unload in the new place. I'm going to be kind of sad when it's back to reality. This has truly been the trip of a lifetime!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Almost Easy trip to Albuquerque

I say almost easy, because 5 hours in the car is never easy. However, with the beautiful scenery and the great, albeit cold, weather, it felt much shorter. Especially after 11 grueling hours in the car yesterday.

Made it to Albuquerque and checked into our hotel. We've got the unloading and loading of cats to a science. Chef and I continue to be impressed by the ability of the cats to travel. Once they're in their carriers, they sit in the car for the duration--no much meowing and no accidents. They get out of the carriers at the hotel, eat, drink and do their bathroom business and then start exploring the new surroundings. All this without the kitty xanax, as they do fine without it and we do better without having to shove pills down their throat.

But I digress. The front desk manager told us that Mimi's Cafe down the street was serving a full Thanksgiving meal, so we hit it up. I had the traditional turkey and accoutrement, but Chef stuck to his usual steak option. The only minor crisis was Chef leaving his debit card in the restaurant and not realizing it until we had gotten halfway back to the hotel. Which caused anxiety and a small nervous breakdown until it was back in our hands.

Anyway, with full bellies, we sit here and prepare for tomorrow's adventure. We've got a hotel booked about a mile from the Grand Canyon Park entrance. I'm so excited! I've never seen the Grand Canyon and am ready to have my breath taken away. Six hours tomorrow to the big hole in the earth!

Amarillo by morning. . . (And our Change of Plans)

We made it to Amarillo last night at about 6 p.m. After 11 hours on the road, we decided that travelling that much in one day is not fun. Originally we had selected a shorter route because we didn't know how much travelling the cats could take. Turns out, they can take a lot and well. No accidents in the car or hotel room. Just get them in their carriers, then show them their food and litter boxes when we get out and they're good to go.

Yesterday's driving experience was pretty boring. The landscape of Oklahoma was not all that exciting. It seems like they even know that. Each exit that featured a town also featured a big blue sign that read "See NAME OF CITY HERE!" and then had 2-3 facts about the town listed below it like "Home of Astronaut Mike Jones" or "Historic Route 66 sites". The really boring cities read things like "Historic Downtown District" or "Indian Arts and Crafts Shops". It was nice that even the more mundane looking towns still got an exclamation point to help spice them up.

The other thing about Oklahoma that really sucked was the wind. Wind is tough in a Sentra, but driving a much taller Penske truck made it a little more difficult. Maybe that was a way to keep me focused, I don't know, but it seemed to work.

Anyway, after all that driving, Chef and I got into Amarillo, dropped the cats off and went out in search of a good steak. I mean, when in Texas, right? We went to a place called Hoffbrau-- I thought it was going to be much nicer than it was. It ended up being kind of like a Logan's. But either way, it was pretty good. It definitely hit the spot after two days of crappy fast food eaten in hard plastic booths as quickly as possible. Plus they had fried green tomatoes that were well done, so that made me happy.

After dinner, we went to Wal-Mart because Chef was out of socks. The others were packed in a box in the Penske so far in the back, that there was no way we were going to dig them out. So, Wal-Mart it was. We got the socks, plus some snacks including a miniature single serve pumpkin pie that I'm saving for today. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

So, after the long day yesterday, Chef and I made a decision over dinner that yesterday wasn't fun enough. We were so pressed to get to our destination, that we didn't get to see any sites or even have a nice meal until we were so worn out after check in. We are changing our plans for the rest of the trip. How many times do we really expect to be driving across country? I know I haven't explored a whole lot west of the Mississippi. So, we are going to delay our arrival into LA until Sunday. Today we're driving 5 hours only and getting into Albuquerque by early afternoon to find a suitable Turkey dinner.

From Albuquerque we are going to the Grand Canyon. Neither of us has seen it and it's only a little off the beaten path, so it's a must see. From the Grand Canyon, it's on to Vegas. I've been to Vegas, but Chef hasn't, so we're going to hit it up. Neither of us really gambles, but Chef is super excited about the possibilities for great restaurants. Since we're booking hotels 24 hours before we hit a destination, we're getting great deals on kitty-friendly places. Besides, we both know that once we hit LA the work begins. We've hired some help to unload the truck at less than $100 for two hours (hell yeah). Then it's get a job!

We're off to Albuquerque (every time i say that I think of my Aunt Mio). Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tears, Fears, and Little Rock

I cried a lot today. Packing up the last things in our apartment. And of course leaving Nashville the last time. Chef just mentioned Nashville at lunch and it made me tear up. I have met so many great friends, and Nashville is a town where nothing bad really happened to me. No one died. I never was a victim of a crime. But when it comes down to it, I took the best thing Nashville had with me: Chef.

Today wasn't too bad. The cats were great. Some meows when we would stop, but never for longer than 5 minutes. The penske wasn't too bad to drive. Clocked up to 75 mph. The worst part of the day with the cats was in the hotel. Chef and I spent 20 minutes looking for Mila in the room. She hadn't snuck out (or so we thought) but there wasn't any place else for her to hide. So we went to the front desk to see if they'd seen a cat scurry out of our room. They had not. I just about start crying when I reach under the air conditioner and feel fur. It was a huge sense of relief.

So far little rock sucks. None of the pizza places that were top rated and listed as "delivery" in urban spoon actually delivered. So we opted for Pizza Hut. Which delivered us the wrong order so they had to go back and remake our pizza. The wifi doesn't work so I'm blogging from my phone. But all in all it's been smooth.

Next stop: Amarillo, TX. Going to get some steak but not do the steak challenge. Also we downloaded the roadside America app to hit some quirky spots along the way ( thanks for the tip, Greg). Cadillac ranch, anyone?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Quick Break from Apartment Hunting

I'm not a good hunter. I don't like guns. Or tracking animals. I feel too much sympathy. In fact, the only thing I'm good at hunting is a bargain. And that's on my home turf.

So I was a little daunted in trying to hunt an apartment in a city that I hadn't spent any significant time in and yet was moving into in a week. So yes. Daunted is definitely a good word for it.

First day, first place and Chef and I are liking it a lot. It's cute, new and has a patio. Only two drawbacks are that it's a little small and on the first floor. The complex was completely secure with a parking spot included, two swimming pools, three huge laundry facilities and a fitness center--also a year's worth of free laundry cards (they don't make you get change, they put $ on the laundry cards and you just swipe your card).

But not knowing if what we were seeing was good or great, we moved along. We saw cute. We saw big. We saw out of our price range. We saw old in a great location. We saw new in a shitty location. The one thing most of these places get right is they update their appliances and bathroom fixtures. That's a standard. They also know exactly which area of the apartment to photograph to maximize its appeal.

My two favorite scenarios were today's. At the first place we went to, we pulled up right outside to a big African-American dude on the front balcony blaring rap music. By blaring, I mean we could rap along to the music in our closed up car. But I felt obligated to look at the place because we had already called a dude and made him meet us there to open it. We go through the place and where is the apartment he's showing us? Right next to blaring rap music at 11 a.m. dude. That's a big HELL no. I don't really want to rent a place where there are lots of people home at 11 a.m. I work hard. I want to be around others that do too. Maybe it's just me.

The other one was old and had updated the lobby and some good space. The "two bedroom" was weird because one bedroom was connected to the other and you had to walk through the first bedroom to get to the second. All of that was fine and dandy, but again it was the little thing that made me (I guess I'm a snob) turn on my heels and leave. We went to the balcony and the neighbor to the left had their entire balcony filled with trash. Broken furniture, empty spray paint cans, broken strollers. All pure crap.

When I told the leasing agent, the place wasn't really for us, she asked me why and sensing that she actually did care what I thought or wanted some truthful feedback, I told her that both of the apartments she had shown us had neighbors who had trash piled up on their balconies that wasn't somewhere I was interested in living.

So, in the end, we've seen about 12 places and it looks like that we'll have an apartment by noon tomorrow. And while the we've sacrificed a nice place for a great location (and the WORST complex) in our Nashville place. It looks like we're going for good location, great complex and some actual amenities for the new place.

It actually wasn't until Chef declared that he absolutely needed some sunglasses asap that I started to feel like LA could be home. Funny how the great American commerce can feel so comforting. We pulled into the place everyone told us they raved about called The Grove. Lots of stores we don't have in Nashville--Nordstrom, American Girl Store, Crate and Barrel, etc. We look around, have fun and have our route encumbered going into Nordstrom by Mario Lopez shooting tonight's "Extra". It started to feel like LA.

Then we went to the discount complex up the street, passed where Heidi's work scenes were shot for "The Hills" and amongst the discount Nordstrom, I felt my Hoosier groundedness come out. I know there are going to be more tears, more tantrums and many more turnarounds with the Garmin, but I think this place is going to work for us.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's Hard to Believe...the Countdown begins

I spent most of today packing. While I was hoping to pack for our upcoming trip to LA, I knew that packing up the apartment was probably the more logical thing to do. So, I popped open some boxes, threw some football on the TV and then went about tearing up our bedroom and bathroom in the hopes of making some sense of the madness.

It's not the packing of things that gets me. It's the purging of the crap that's been accumulated that I enjoy and hate at the same time. I love getting it out, but I hate the sorting and "where are we going to take that?" moment. Right now I've got about 10 boxes of our stuff packed and 7 boxes of things to have Chef take to Goodwill on Monday. I also made three big trips to the trash. There are times when I am sincerely grateful for the big ass dumpster in our apartment complex parking lot. Those times are NOT when someone dumps a dining room set or mattress in the alley for others to drive around (which happens about every other week), but is when we have massive amounts of crap to unload.

Aside from the purging of crap, I've also realized that we have very few items of real value. I think Chef and I should get married just to be able to replace all of our cutlery and place settings. We're pairing both of those down tomorrow when I start to tackle the kitchen. We merged plates, glasses and cutlery when we moved in together and in our laziness, never really paired them down. Our laziness really was two fold in that 1) we didn't want to take stuff to Goodwill and 2) by having massive amounts of dinnerware, we never ran out and only had to do dishes when the washer was full. Now it's time to choose only the most useful of the plates and cutlery to move on. Also, I've begun to notice that the best glasses Chef and I have are the ones that are designed to hold alcohol in them. Hmmmm. . . .

Tomorrow, it's Colts game, then Kitchen. Only two and a half working days until we'll be boarding a plane to LA to rent an apartment (and check out our new city). Wish us luck that we can find something suitable in four days time. I feel pretty confident that we'll be good to go, but there's always the chance for a hitch in the giddy-up so to speak. We land at about midnight a week from today.

Being that I'm a glutton for punishment, I scheduled our last hoorah for Sunday, November 21st. Anyone who reads this and wants to can come join us for a last drink at Sam's in Hillsboro Village. I'll be setting up shop shortly before the kick off of the 3:15 Colts-Patriots game.

And then we pick up the moving truck on Monday morning. I'm currently scheduling some moving help on Monday morning as well. In my old age, I've learned that $200 or so is not too shabby to save an argument and backache from loading your own van. I haven't scheduled help on the back end yet, but keep your fingers crossed.

So, that's the plan of the move as I can see it now. The apartment is starting to look bare. It's strange how most of the things that surround me are pure crap that I can do without. It's going to totally change my perspective on not just buying stuff to fill space, but surrounding myself with things that I really love. I mean, it's worked well with people, friends and cats, so I'm sure furniture is just the next logical step, right?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Boxes, Boxes, and Kitty Xanax

I've spent the last two days buying, finding and creating boxes. I've learned that Lowe's has an excellent selection of boxes for a reasonable price. The large boxes top out at $1.25 each whereas the Uhaul and other packing places boxes can run up to $4 for a plain large box. That's just crazy talk. I mean, who would pay that much for a BOX??

Okay, so I did end up paying WAY more than $4 for one box, but it's a special box. It's a box for our flatscreen TV. If there's anything in our hours that's actually worth something (other than my jewelry) and needs some special TLC (not of the Left Eye persuasion, but of the loving care kind) it's the TV. Let's be honest. I'm a addicted to TV and its many hours of crappy entertainment and only a few hours of quality scripted programs. So, I spent a pretty penny on a special kit to move the blessed piece of entertainment across country in one piece.

So, the boxes are bought. Some have been created as I've got the bedroom packed (except for the clothes) and the furniture is cleared out. The kitchen is going to take a while, but Chef and I are going to work on that extensively tomorrow and Sunday.

So, it's a matter of clearing out some things over the next few days. I actually feel good about how much stuff we're purging and how little we really need to take with us. Honestly, I have come to the decision to only bring stuff into our place that I really love.

Speaking of things that I really love, the other thing we had to take care of today was getting the drugs for the cats. Four days on the road with cats is no way to spend time if the cats are meowing or freaking out the entire time. So, kitty xanax it is! Our vet gave us the pills today and we're testing them out on Monday. Wish us luck!

It's off to LA on Tuesday to find an apartment. Making some steps each day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Glee, you're disappointing me

This season of Glee sucks. Remember when Glee was a show where the kids got together to sing against some other force--whether it was themselves or budgets or another Glee club? They sang because they were cast in a commercial or practicing for a contest? Yes, I remember the good old days too.

I'm afraid that Glee is going to become like Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy or some other show that became insanely popular in the first year and then bought into it's own success only to flame out from bad writing. Here are things in this year's Glee that I'm already tired of:

  • Kirk's homosexuality ostracizing him. We get it. It was done in Dawson's Creek. And One Tree Hill. And 90210. And every other teen based drama on television in the last 20 years. Add something new to the discussion, please.
  • Rachel being an overzealous drama queen. Okay, really it's just all of the characters beginning to be caricatures of themselves. They've all veered a little too far forward from real people they seemed to represent.
  • Nothing happening. Think about the story lines this season. Have any of them actually moved forward? Remember last season? Still was happening every episode. Will's wife was paying Quinn for her baby. Will and Emma's sparking romance. An almost wedding. There were lots of things. Not just breaking into song because it's "Boys vs. Girls" week.
  • Lastly, I'm tired of Lea Michele. I saw the girl on Conan and have seen her do several interviews. She is talented, but the girl needs to get a grip on reality. Here's what I'd tell her: "You are not fascinating. Not everything you do or that is done relating to you is worthy of adulation or even notice. You have a good voice. You play a part well. You are not the cure to cancer. "
So, that's my Glee rant. Mostly because I keep waiting for this season to have some of the charm and charisma as last season. What really makes me mad is that I want the show to be well written again. I just think the songs are thought up first and then the story line goes in around them. It should be the other way around.

Friday, November 05, 2010

I've Missed Dreaming

I wouldn't recommend that everyone quit their jobs and move to a different city. But I wouldn't NOT recommend it either. Since I had my emotional last day at the American Heart Association, I have enjoyed my friends and family here in Nashville while plotting, planning and preparing for our big move to Los Angeles. In that preparation, I decided it was time to give up something that I love very much: ambien.

I still have about two weeks worth left which I intend on keeping for emergencies, but thought it was time while I was unemployed and my day's work didn't depend on my night's sleep to try and ween myself off of it. The first night was rough. It took me about two hours of lounging in bed to feel drowsy. Then it took me all of two hours to wake back up. It was up and down for the next 6 hours until I had declared it time to give up the fight.

Night two was a different story. Still very much in short spurts, but then longer stretches, as if to give my unconscious self some hope. But one main difference between this night and probably 5 months of nights before: I had a dream. Not the Martin Luther King Jr. kind, but a vivid dance in between my imagination and subconscious. It was glorious. I remembered it. And some day, in some form, I'll share it, but not here.

The next night I slept longer and harder and dreamed more scenes. And slowly the dreams began to take over my thinking during my waking hours. The time I spent thinking about strategy and reports and accounts has in the last week been used to day dream. And I realized how much I missed it. Thinking without purpose or hindrance.

Last week I went with my friend Greg to see an author named Aimee Bender. I was late, but she was wonderful and as she got to the question and answer section, she became even more endearing. If you've been to a Q and A with people who are fans, you know that the questions can become more diatribes on the person's admiration than an actual question (for example, one question to Ms. Bender when boiled down to logic this night was "How do you put words together?". Seriously.) But one of those questions, and I frankly can't remember which one, led to Ms. Bender answering with "Sometimes it's good to be bored. Sometimes those crazy thoughts that we all have as humans are meant to peek through." Or something to that nature. I'm clearly paraphrasing, but the gist of the sentiment has stuck with me this week.

It made me realize something: Whether it was during the day time or night time or any time in between, I've missed dreaming. And I'm happy to be doing it again.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Sometimes its the little things. . .

Today I spent the majority of my day in my pajamas. It's not a bad way to spend the day. However, despite being in pajamas, I was working hard pretty much the whole day. I spent a good 2-3 hours uploading all the pertinent files that I had on my work computer onto my personal laptop. One of the catches is that my personal laptop doesn't have any Windows software on it. No Word. No Power Point. No Excel. None of it.

So I was forced to try out Google Docs. It's not too bad. I was able to reformat my resume, make some changes and pretty much open any of the documents that I had transferred over. It was helpful to be able to rifle through my old files to make sure I'd remembered all of my accomplishments in nine years. Sadly, I had forgotten most and I'm stuck trying to remember what things I was so proud of during my time as the marketing director. Hmmmm. . .

Aside from that, I was also able to open my file of exported contacts. The kicker is that that contacts from my old Outlook account, the contacts in my iPhone and the contacts in my Google account are all slightly different. So I had to go through all the contacts that I wanted to sync into my phone and on Google and make sure the Outlook information matched up. There's no easy way to do this when you're not quite sure which version is the most up to date. So, another 2 and half hours later I finally had my contacts down to a mere 80. Oosh.

But now I'm ready, at least computer-wise, to move on. Now to apply for some additional jobs tomorrow. Oh the little things. . .

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Free Chihuly and a Wonderful Day

Today was my second official day of unemployment. Yesterday was my first and it was so packed with a lunch, grocery shopping, license tag renewals, rent paying and phone calls that it was not so much like a day off. Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to sit around lounging until its time to pack up and move to Los Angeles, but I'm also not going spend all my time obsessing so that I can't enjoy the little space in between jobs that I am afforded. I'm only afforded this because of Chef and I saving and living below our means for quite some time and my oblivious confidence that a good work ethic and great experience will land me something that will at least pay the bills in L.A.

So today Chef and I went to Community Day at Cheekwood to check out the Chihuly exhibit. Dale Chihuly is an artist, primarily a glassblower, who does these huge, beautiful installations. Cheekwood is the botanical gardens in Nashville. That should catch up those who have not heard of one or the other or both of those. Oh and Community Day means it was free to get in. We left the house around 10:15, got into the long line of cars to get into Cheekwood at 11:30 and actually walked through the museum gates at 10:55. There were that many people there. Mostly at home mothers and the eldery (it is the middle of the week, after all), but school was out because it is election day and there's nothing more creepy than exposing our children to the myriad of people who actually take part in democracy. That's just too big of a risk for the schools.

So, we got some sandwiches and sat amongst the trees and art in the beautiful weather and chuckled at the idiots who had to work today. Sure, a paycheck is nice, but so is Chihuly with a loved one. We meandered through the exhibit, found every piece and about 2 hours later were firmly planted at Sweet Cece's to get some frozen yogurt with fruity pebbles on top--because I've made Chef a believer of fruity pebbles as a topping.

Now I'm hanging out and blogging while I wait for my boot camp to start at 5 p.m. and then its home for a quick shower and heading to Patterson House for a round of drinks (handcrafted cocktails to be exact) as the perfect cap to this fine day.

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