Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Maybe it's Not So Bad

Yup. I'm loved. Thank you!
Let's be frank: Working on your birthday sucks no matter how great your job is.

But that being said I am having a terrific birthday so far. My friend Meredith made me the BEST. CAKE. EVER. I'm one of those plain people: white cake with white butter cream icing. It's a challenge to showcase talent with that, but she did. Meredith made me a Tahitian vanilla cake with coconut custard filling--mixing my favorite desserts--white cake and coconut cream pie. And she got an assist from Alexis. (As an aside, the coconut cream pie is from Dick Clark's--grandma's recipe is still the best. If you find yourself in Princeton and hankering for pie, go with Coconut Cream every time. You're welcome).

Tasted even better
Anyway, I am still at work (yes, I'm blogging at work but it's my birthday and I finished a lingering project today so I can celebrate with a 5 minute post--I'm not billing time for it).  Getting ready to head home where Chef is preparing a home cooked steak dinner, but not until after I make my annual Sephora trip. I always go in on my birthday so I can get my free gift. Yes, I'm one of those. Plus I got some birthday gift cards burning a hole in my pocket.

More posts to come from my further celebrations on Friday and Saturday. It's not been so shabby so far.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Birthday Angst

A few years ago I was feeling all weird towards mid-January. I mentioned this at my writers group (which I DESPERATELY miss like crazy) and Sue mentioned the anxiety people get around birthdays. And thinking about it then, it totally made sense. Why I used to run around like a chicken with my head cut off when I was younger. Why I get all mopey now that I'm older.

Don't get me wrong. I love birthdays. I'm big on birthdays. I get that from my mom who was also big on birthdays. From breakfast to goodnight kisses, she found big and little ways to make the day special. I used to kid her and my dad that it was because they were usually gone to a company retreat on my actual birthday. They felt so bad that I had birthday celebrations during our Christmas vacation to Grand Cayman, in the summer so that I could have a pool party like my brother used to (my "un-Birthday") and so on. Then they'd leave me with grandparents who would feel equally as bad on my birthday and ply me with cake and attention like no other.

This is probably why I was set up for a lifetime of disappointment.

I'm only slightly kidding. But watching last week's episode of New Girl where Jess has these insanely large expectations for her birthday and is usually let down, I could relate. Not because Chef doesn't do a great job in making the day special (he does), but just because.

So this year, I'm trying to recognize the angst and know that I am working on my birthday so it can only be so good by its nature. And I will try to remember that I am off on Friday to have a celebration, a mani-pedi, get my hair done, eat copious amounts of seafood and then spend half of my Saturday getting pampered at the spa (see? Told you I am spoiled).

Until then, grr. I say.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Opinion on Richard Sherman (Because I Know You Want to Know)

After the Seahawks defeated the 49ers on Sunday, cornerback Richard Sherman had a microphone thrust in his face a few minutes after making a game-saving play and thus sending his team to the Superbowl. His, um, exuberant response has been the talk of the sports world and beyond ever since with every one giving their opinion and adding racial tilts and personal attacks. So of course I knew it was time for me to weigh in.

I don't have a problem with Richard Sherman acting like a WWE wrestler after a nationally televised game. It made for interesting TV and I know why he was excited. I mean, it is the Superbowl.

But I do have  a few problems with his actions-and a few of his words. First of all, the whole choke signal at the opposing team. No bueno. This isn't just a team he might play every once in a while. It's a team he will play twice a year and will probably face in the playoffs quite a bit. Sherman can never know when one game or one play will shape a season--it could mean the difference between a first and sixth seed in the playoffs. So egging his divisional rivals on with a gesture that will FOR SURE remember it for the next two times (if not every time) he plays them, not a good idea in general. This wildly inappropriate gesturing and snubbing goes for coaches too.

Second, calling out Crabtree. I have rarely seen a rivalry be one-sided. It's why it's called a rivalry. And private smack talk is one thing, but know that words are meant to be eaten. I think just about every person that called themselves the greatest of all time has fallen from grace. Want to know some of the company he's in now that he's done that? LL Cool J and Will Smith. Richard Sherman just put himself in the same category as them. Congrats.

Lastly on the negatives, the gesture cost the team 15 yards. Sure, it meant jack squat here, but sometime it's gonna mean something and then the team won't find it quite as amusing.

On the positives, Richard Sherman is a genius (and if you haven't heard it yet, he went to Stanford so that helps prove it). Cornerback is not exactly the highest of profile positions on the football field and in one short interview, he just became a nationally known entity. That's pretty genius in my book.

All that said: I'm still rooting for Peyton. I just can't quit him. Unless he's playing the Colts. Then he means nothing to me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An Open Rant to Macy's

This says "opinion". It can easily
say "Macy's Customer Service."
Dear Macy's,
I used to be a fan. You support an organization that I used to work for and still love, and I appreciate that. However, any residual goodwill I had with you dissipated when after FOUR attempts to return a wedding ring that did not fit.

Here's the situation: Macy's stores don't carry all sizes of rings, so when my husband and I ordered a size in store (being incorrectly sized by one of your associates), it was delivered to our home. When we learned that the ring didn't fit, that's where things got interesting. The package didn't include a packing slip, so I called the customer service line. . .three times.

Call #1: Took my info, tried to have me reprint my slip online until I pointed out that jewelry wasn't an option for that. Then she promised to email a shipping slip and a reorder of the new size for exchange.

Three days. . . no email.

Call #2: Repeat of call #1 with some apologies for the first experience and a repeat of the first call.

Four more days. . .no email. Check spam settings to make sure emails aren't being shifted. Nope.

Call #3: Immediately let the rep know it was my third attempt and I wasn't happy. Rep refused to give me info because although my credit card (with my name) bought the ring, it was shipped in Chef's name. Did I mention this was a wedding ring? Rep says that it is to protect the billing information, I say it was my card and my name. No go. Furious, I ask to speak to a supervisor. Wait 3 minutes (yes, I timed it). Rep says that all are busy. I say I'll wait 10 minutes. 10 minutes later rep says STILL no supervisors are free. I hang up and write furious email.

21 hours later I receive a cut and paste email telling me how I can return the items including giving me the customer service line and the website link that isn't an option. (At this point I know I am returning to the store to return, but am pissed).  The email had the gall to say that "Returns are easy at Macy's!".

Below is my sarcasm-filled response:

Julius,
First of all, it is my credit card information that was used to purchase the item--a wedding ring. It seems like if I am using my credit card to purchase a wedding ring two things would be evident: 1) that you should be trying to protect the billing information as the credit card holder (because we know how security has been an issue for major retailers lately), not the address where the item was shipped and that was on the credit card, and 2) if I was trying to pull one over on Macy's it seems like buying a wedding ring for my husband and both of us having the same last name and address would probably blow my cover. 

I probably would have less of an issue if ALL three of the service representatives had listed this as a concern. But only the last person refused to help me. The inconsistency was exceptionally confusing and on my THIRD call, which I told the representative immediately that this was, it was infuriating. 

Next, I appreciate your 'cut and paste' approach to customer service. It really helps clarify where I stand as a Macy's customer. I'm clearly just a number. I certainly don't expect customer service to know the return policy for every item it carries, but to help mitigate this, a cursory glance at the item ordered on the website would be helpful. You and two of the previous customer service reps tried to lead me to the website to reprint my return label. This is impossible for two reasons: 1) there was no return label in the first place (which has been mentioned) and 2) the website link reference does NOT list jewelry as an option for reprinting labels. If you can find it at the link you gave me (http://www1.macys.com/service/returns/easyreturnslabel.jsp), I will gladly apologize. 

And lastly, I am happy you included the customer service telephone number, as it has been oh so helpful in the past. Sending me for a fourth time to have my call taken by someone who  may or may not talk to me, and then promise to send a return slip and reorder the wedding ring only to have me wait in vain by our email for the promised answer to our customer service quandary and be disappointed sounds like a wonderful option. God forbid there was a specialized hotline of different customer service reps for people who have tried FOUR TIMES to exchange an item. At this point, I am crossing my fingers that going into a store for this will make the fifth time a charm. I'm unsure whether to exchange or just return because if the next wedding ring doesn't fit and I'm forced to waste more precious hours of my life trying to get the correct size. I will probably end up just divorcing my husband. Frankly at this point a divorce would be quicker and easier to than dealing with the Macy's customer service department. 

Sincerely, 
Order #10281XXX

aka Ashley Loar

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Things that Don't Get Easier The More You Do Them

Some days deserve a French Fry
happy ending.
There's a big myth that I used to subscribe to that things get easier the more you do them. The older I've gotten the more I realize that this blanket statement relates to a LOT of things in life, but certainly not everything. So I started thinking. . .what are things that don't get easier the more you do them:

  • Doctors appointments
  • Bikini waxes
  • Writing a novel
  • Colts and/or Hoosiers losses (particularly in the playoffs, Super Bowl or NCAA tournament)
  • Bathing cats
  • Pitching stories to journalists that your client/co-worker/sponsor expects to see place and you know you don't have a shot in hell (clearly, that's PR specific)
  • Exercise--yes, technically it exerts you less the more you do it, but it's still hard to want to do it. AND if you skip a few days, it's almost like starting back at square one, which doesn't seem fair.
  • Diets-duh
  • Calculus- this could just be me, but I despite my B, I never did get Calculus. 
  • Watching bad stand-up comedy--particularly in person
What would you add to the list?

** Despite the fact that I'm not advertising McDonald's, I am required to mention that I work with the brand. They are a client. (Yes, I'm very lucky). I will also testify, which MANY people can back up, that my love of the McDonald's french fry goes back longer than my current job. Because they rock my socks off. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

2014 Golden Globes. . . Let's Discuss

Matt Damon will never
be a "garbage collector"
to me. 
I hadn't really been a big awards show fan until I moved to somewhere were traffic, business and viewing schedules revolved around them. Now, I watch. I especially like the Golden Globes because it just looks like more fun. It's TV and Movies and really there isn't an uninteresting category all night. Plus they got Tina and Amy to host twice now, so I'm totally down.

Here are my initial thoughts on last night's show:

  • Opening monologue was a little disappointing but the George Clooney zinger had me laughing pretty damn hard.
  • Jacqueline Bisset was probably drunk and altogether unprepared for her train wreck of a speech. Sorry folks, rambling is not endearing. And she only got away with it because it was the beginning of the show. I could've probably forgiven the speech if I wasn't so pissed that she just rolled out of bed with that hair. Even a pony tail would've looked better. Just sayin'.
  • Can we please have a lifetime achievement award go to someone who isn't a child molester, accused or convicted sex offender or has some kind of violence against women in his background? Are there any of those left in Hollywood to honor? I'm not a big Woody Allen or Roman Polanski fan, but it would be nice to perhaps save the accolades for a less public venue. To be honest, I felt the same way when Ray Lewis did ANYTHING in front of a camera, including playing and his current stint on ESPN.
  • P. Diddy, please shut up. You can have them call you "Sean Combs" but everyone remembers that you have a ridiculous name you insist on calling yourself and no one cares about your St. Bart's vacay. 
  • The guy who won for best original score had a better hairdo than Jacqueline Bisset.
  • Matthew McConaughey seems like he spent his entire life  preparing for his role as David Wooderson, even though Dazed and Confused was 21 years ago. (Don't you feel old now?)
  • I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
What did you think? Insert your own snarky comment in the comments section.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Let's Play A Game

When I used to cashier at various places, I used to try and guess what people were doing by their purchases. It was a fun way to spend the a work shift.

If my cashier at Target played that game today, probably only chocolate would've screamed "I'M HAVING MY PERIOD!" more than my purchases.

I remember a time when I would've been embarrassed to have to bring the box of tampons up to checkout. Now I just plunk them down like a veteran.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

What if. . .?

I've been working more on the book lately. Mostly to figure out some plot and character issues and to basically rip it apart to make it better. It's simultaneously horrifying and liberating. Okay, less horrifying. I'm really enjoying doing it. I probably should've done it before I actually began the meat of the project, but I'm going to say that it's my first attempt at a novel so I'm allowed-no, EXPECTED-to take the long way around.

Anyway, one of the questions really got me thinking. The question was: "What if. . . ?"

I think that question gets a really bad connotation sometimes. Most of the time when I think of what if? it's looking backwards.

What if I had swung at the called third strike in my last travel softball game?

What if I had continued with teaching as my minor instead of German?

But the exercise for this book was more about looking forward. Making choices for the characters and seeing how they'd turn out. Taking a moment to imagine things rather than presume. Letting your mind wander. And I've found that I enjoy letting my mind wander. Taking some time to focus and think and not be bombarded with the latest text that just popped up on my phone.

We all need some time to dream. I've forgotten that in the midst of the daily grind. What if I remembered to take some time to dream?

What if. . . .?

Monday, January 06, 2014

What Every Colts Fan Felt Like This Weekend

I, and I assume all my fellow Colts fans, felt the following emotions when watching the playoff game vs. the Chiefs on Saturday. This is a fairly accurate play-by-play of emotion from kick-off until morning.

  • Let's do this! I think the Colts can win.
  • Damn, the KC offense looks better than I remember, but at least Charles is out (Sorry he got hurt though).
  • Okay, the Colts scored in return. No panic.
  • Seriously? At least it was only a field goal.
  • WTF?!? Richardson cost a first round pick and does this?!? Why isn't Donald Brown doing the running?
  • Alex Smith is making this look too easy. This might be a long night.
  • A field goal? TOUCHDOWNS, PEOPLE! We need touchdowns!!
  • Oh dear God. Another one. Down 21. Maybe this will be like the first half of the season? Maybe we'll pull it out.
  • Thank God it's halftime. KC can't score during halftime. 
  • I miss you, Tony Dungy.
  • ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? ANOTHER turnover and ANOTHER Chiefs touchdown. Time to open up that bottle of wine. 
  • Well, at least Donald is running well. Only down 21 now.
  • Hooray! Another TD totally works. Cut it to 14. Is this something?
  • Damn. Well, at least it was only a KC field goal.
  • SWEET strip sack, Mathis! We can always count on you.
  • Fleener for the score! 
  • Give it to Donald. He hasn't fumbled in his entire NFL ca-WHAT? Wait. Oh, THANK YOU! They don't call him Luck for nothing. 
  • Can the Colts actually pull this out?
  • Phew. Another field goal. Okay, I can handle that. 
  • HOW DID THEY LEAVE HILTON OPEN?!?!?! HOW IN THE WORLD DID THEY NOT COVER THE ONLY DEEP THREAT THE COLTS HAVE?!?! IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE??
Of course, it ended with the second largest comeback in NFL playoff history. And I had to celebrate silently because Chef was asleep. 


Still worth it. 

Friday, January 03, 2014

I Wore My Good Underwear to Get My Hands X-rayed

Not so much my hand
Sometimes I've been known to not think things through the whole way. Yesterday would be one of those times. You see a few weeks ago I visited a new rheumatologist. I've had some progressively aching hands to match a hip that aches every now and again, and my dermatologist recommended it. I could deal with my hip hurting because it's just a hip. But my hands?!? No way. I use them too much.

So I went in for my appointment and because it was just my hands, I didn't expect the exam to be too invasive. But she's apparently a very thorough rheumatologist (plus she's a HUGE college basketball fan, Kansas, but I'll forgive a little rock chalk jayhawk for someone who at least knows where Indiana is). She talked through my family history, and then had me strip down to a gown and my undies for the rest of the exam.

I had not expected this and as I'm apt to do on occasion was not wearing undies. So there's that.

I vowed never to let this happen again. She ordered a bunch of x-rays on my hips, wrists and chest and I was well-prepared. So when I got called back in for my hands x-rays this week, I was ready. I went back to the radiology lab and was jumping into the room that I'd been in the week before. I put down my purse and started to take off my clothes when the tech just looked at me.

"You get to keep your clothes on today. We're just x-raying your hands."

Between the no undies and the strip down, I'm pretty sure my doctors all think that I'm an exhibitionist. Oh well, I have a gynecologist exam soon and I know they need me to be naked.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

When You Look Like Your Passport Photo. . .

On left, my photo circa 2006.
On right, my photo circa last week
"When you look like your passport photo, it's time to go home." - Erma Bombeck

I didn't know the true depth of that funny little phrase until I got my first passport for my trip to Germany about 7 years ago. I had to get my passport updated with my new name and got a chance to right the wrongs of my old photo.

I cannot believe or rather I choose not to believe that even on my worst day I looked as poorly as I did in my old photo. I'm okay with the new photo. The woman taking it messed with my bangs because she said she needed to make sure my eyes were completing showing, but other than that, I'm happy. If I actually looked like the second photo on a trip home, I'd be ecstatic because I think I look MUCH worse after travelling.

What's your passport photo look like?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Cheers to a New Year!

Mimosas for the win!
Cheers to you on this new year! May all your hopes, dreams, changes, and wishes come true.  (If you're taking note of mine, yesterday was clearly a better day to do so but I didn't mention a wish I have that clearly is not a resolution-- I wish the Colts a playoff victory this weekend. So, there's that to toast to).

One of the things I didn't make an official resolution, but I'm determined to do is the daily picture thing. I found there were long stretches of time that I didn't bother to take a picture and I know things happened. Even if I'm only walking around my house, neighborhood or workplace, I'm hoping that by taking pictures will
My actual first picture of the New Year:
Cute Khubla
help me see beauty in the everyday and get me to appreciate my surroundings a little more. I mean, I live in one of the most diverse, beautiful cities in the world, might as well take advantage of it.

So cheers to you and a year of documenting the every day!

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