Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mary and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Meeting

Do you remember the book 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day'? If you don't it's basically about this poor little boy who has EVERYTHING go wrong from the minute he, literally, falls out of bed. I did this speech in grade school. That's right, I was part of the Bellarmine Speech League growing up. It was cool to be part of the Speech Team. You had to audition and stuff. I even won a gold ribbon for this one- which means perfect. Not as cool as Julie & Amy's duet speech that got them a trophy but, no really, I AM over that. Anyways, I digress. If you want to learn more about another unique thing to the STL, here's the link: Awesome Things To Do When You Are Under 13 and in Catholic School in STL

So I recently went on a program to New Orleans that pretty much mimicked sweet little Alexander. I should have known when it started with me realizing that I only had 39 minutes in Atlanta to make my connection which was cut down to 18 after having to be de-iced in Des Moines. Twice. When I landed I hauled balls through the airport- not an easy feat in ATL- and was 'that' girl running in heels, yelling across the airport as I see them closing the door. They stopped, I made it, my luggage didn't. Sigh. I go to the hotel, assured my luggage is on the next flight and should be delivered to the hotel in the next 3 hours.

As we have a lot of work to do the day kind of got away until I realized my luggage had been in New Orleans for quite awhile but was still not in my possession. I head down to the front desk, nearly killing myself in the process by falling down the stairs, luckily I was able to grab hold of the bannister and just look like an idiot. They aren't much help so I call  Delta directly to follow up. They can guarantee it will be there by 10. AM. The next day. Hmmm... Luckily we were working with a great DMC who was able to get it to me just in time before we left for dinner. Happy end to a long day, right? Not so much.

As we are leaving for dinner the fire alarm goes off. We don't think much of it because, come on, those things go off ALL THE TIME.  Even as we see smoke we don't think anything of it since laundry room fires are a fairly common occurence, sad but true, and don't ever amount to anything. We don't think much of it until, walking back from dinner, we get a text from that same awesome DMC that says, 'Hey there! We are on top of it and ready to assist when needed!' Um, what?

Long story short, fire was a real fire on the 4th floor. A 4-alarm fire that brought out 98 firefights and the Red Cross. Wouldn't have been too horrible except our meeting space was on the 3rd floor so the water from the sprinklers was now making it rain (and not in the fun PacMan Jones kind of way) in our meeting rooms. So begins the process of trying to move a 200 person meeting to another hotel at 10:00 PM at night. But it gets done thanks to amazing teamwork. That HAS to be the end of it, right?

No, Monday I come down with a cold. I mean the kind of cold that has me tearing through hotel tissues (aka. sandpaper) at an alarming rate. At least I didn't feel bad, just looked like Rudoloph and was reduced to putting chapstick on my nose and I couldn't get away to a Walgreens for anything else!

Luckily, the rest of the week goes fairly okay until departure day when we wake up to massive storms and tornado watches- not great when you are trying to get 200 people out on aeroplanes. Then an 18-wheeler truck comes barreling down the breezeway where my mini-coaches are staged and takes off half the ceiling ONTO one of the busses. Awesome. Luckily I didn't have anyone on that bus at the time and we get it replaced before the next round of people head to the airport.

Finally it's time to go home. So I think. Remember those storms? I was slowly watching my flight get more and more delayed meaning I wasn't going to make my connection in Minneapolis. (PS- I never realized how lucky I was, living in Chicago and always having direct flights. Des Moines? Not so much.) By the time I get to the airport, my coworker and I have already been rebooked for our flights- leaving the next day. NOOOOOO- I want to go home NOWWWWWWW. And that flight the next day has a 25 minute connection in Minneapolis with the next flight not getting us home until after 4 which is the exact time of my make-up appointment to get ready for the Variety Gala. Awesome. We decide that if we are going to get stuck we'd rather be stuck in MN for the night with the gurarntee to get on a 7AM flight so we head to grab a glass of wine (yes, I used a cheat day for this). Miraculously our flight starts moving the other way and we take off on time AND make our connection. I'm thinking that this is it, the curse is over. Ha!

We finally land at DSM, I get my bag and walk to my car, put my stuff in the back and put the fab in to start it. It doesn't start. Dead battery. Awesome, I call Tim and ask him to come get me. Now there is ZERO juice so I can't even get the power lock on the hatch open to get my luggage out. I start to laugh at this point because what else can I do? It's 11 PM at night and my luggage is stuck in the car. I set my phone on the hood, proceed to crawl through to the back seat, pull down the seats and shove my bags out the backseat doors. I then head back to the terminal because it's dark and cold and creepy in the garage. I get to the elevator and reach in my pocket for my phone. Not there. Crap. I quickly realize that it's likely still on the hood of my car. Awesome, so I RUN back to my parking space and retrieve it and then plant myself in a seat in the terminal until Tim gets there. I'm not risking anything else going wrong.

I get home, go to bed and all is right with the world. Until the next morning when my DMC calls because they can't find my client to take him to the airport. Then they call back and say that he told the driver he would just take a taxi. Okay. Except then he calls me and says he can't find the driver. Huh?? After some texts and phone calls it turns out the hotel took someone they 'thought' was my client to the driver who then released him, and not very nicely at that. How rude! Except at that point it was just par for the course and FINALLY the end to my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Meeting.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Prius is Really Just a Big Shopping Cart

Those of you that know me are probably thinking you are going to be reading a post about my shopping habits. You aren't. I hope this doesn't disappoint you.

I was previously going to title this post The Prius is an Ice Skate but I changed my mind today after maneuvering my grocery cart in the snow and discovering, like the Prius, it's next to impossible. Sidenote: I understand I can get wrapped up in grocery shopping but it was FLURRYING when I went in and there was a good half inch waiting for me when I came out.  Anyways, I digress. The Byrnes are failing winter so far. Seriously, Mother Nature must have taken my Facebook post telling her to bring it on quite seriously, maybe I bruised her ego, because right now we are being taken behind the woodshed by her. (In case Big MN is reading this: I take it back, you win. My big poofy NorthFace coat has NOTHING on you).

When we moved here and everyone gave us that knowing look when we told them we were moved from we always qualified it with the fact we lived in Chicago for 8 (Mary) or 10 (Tim) years. Okay my Iowa peeps, you also win. Apparently we deserved every last chuckle and sidways glance. Chicago has nothing on Iowa. Except maybe decent street crews. I know last year was a mild winter here but did they all but forget how a storm works? In theory there should be so much surplus in the snow clearing budget none of it should have even TOUCHED the streets, right? Okay, sorry- this is not a bash the Des Moines Streets Department post, it's letting the world know that we truly had no idea what we were in for here. St. Thomas made us soft. (Although there is some truth to the whole streets-being-clear thing, just saying....)

When we got our first blizzard last week we got Tim's car stuck not once, not twice but three times. Time #2 resulted in me finding a nice man in a snowplow clearing a driveway to basically plow me out of the street and in front of the driveway. I had a choice between a $10 bill and a $50 bill.  I gave him the 50. Tim said this was excessive. I said I was no longer in the middle of the street, I win. However, for $50 I probably should have had him actually do the driveway because that's where we got stuck the 3rd time...

Being stuck is not limited to the car. Apparently you can get your lawn tractor-with-snowblade-attached stuck as well. That thing is MADE to clear snow and we, well Tim, got it stuck. I guess the blade was old and too heavy so it weighed down the front making it impossible for the back wheels, WITH CHAINS, to get any traction. Namely because they weren't even touching the ground. I'm pretty sure at this point our neighbors had to be looking out the window, pointing and laughing but I wouldn't know it because I was too busy concentrating on not running over Tim as I steered and he pushed me backwards into the garage to park the tractor. In unsurprising news the blade went on Craigslist. In surprising news, someone has already bought it for $100 and we no longer own the thing.

So we sucked it up that night and took the really long (normally 20 minutes) drive to Sears to buy a snowblower (see: stuck in the driveway the 3rd time, above). You know what sucks more than having to buy a snowblower at full price with no other options? Not being able to fit it in the car to get it back to your house and going home empty handed. Which leads me to...

So the Prius is bad, I mean BAD, in Iowa snow. As mentioned, I wanted to name this post something equating the Prius to an ice skate. What I didn't mention was that I felt the ice skate gave the Prius too much credit. At least with an ice skate there's some control! If I'm not stuck (twice so far which resulted in Tim having to put a blanket on my car and back into me on purpose to get me out of the driveway the second time). I have basically slipped and slid my way too and from work the last few days. It's a good thing that there was no one in the lanes on both sides of me on Jordan Creek this morning as I turned off Bridgewood because I used all three of them and still almost ended up facing south in the northbound lanes!

So that's where we are so far this winter- technically a whole 8 days in- I hope we grow our snow legs soon!! Check back regularly to see if I win the 'Mary Needs a New Car' battle!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

That's Right People, I HEART Iowa!!!

Everytime we meet someone new, this is pretty much how the conversation goes:

Inquiring Mind: So you're new to Iowa? Where did you move from?
Tim/Mary: The Virgin Islands
Inquiring Mind: (blank stare for a minute) What the hell made you move to IOWA?
Tim/Mary: The weather! It was 80 degrees in March when we got here and we decided to stay!
Inquiring Mind: Oh, um. Well. I see.

To be fair we used to answer with the real reaon - Tim's job offer - but then it got to be a lot like 'Do you live here' from the tourists on St. Thomas so we thought we'd have some fun. After we get past this opening the conversation usually turns to how long we were down there, why left and eventually to what we think about Iowa. The resounding answer is we LOVE it!

That's right- I love Iowa! I had no idea Des Moines had so much to offer. Outside of the things I was looking forward to (Target, Walmart, a real mall, real grocery stores, Taco Bell) I have been pleasantly suprised by so much. It reminds me a LOT of St. Louis and I loved growing up there so it's a great fit!

It has that great Midwestern feel that I missed on St. Thomas. Even in Chicago people weren't as friendly as they are here or St. Louis or Columbia. Everyone is friendly! We've made great friends across the board and have really enjoyed how quickly we were able to adapt. I credit that to the great people we both work with and the people we have met. We've been here less than 4 months and we've already been fortunate enough to make friends that are amazing. I thought it might be hard to break into circles of friends that were established but we have been welcomed with open arms and had so many enjoyable experiences already!

Another surprise? It's so active here! Des Moines has bike trails that criss cross the city. I can get from my house in West Des Moines all the way downtown without biking in traffic. Let me tell you, after biking in downtown Chicago, that is HUGE! Iowa is home to RAGBRAI where you bike across Iowa over 7 days. We didn't get to do it this year but plan on doing at least a day or two next year. There's the Des Moines Marathon, the Dam to Dam 1/2 Marathon and the Hy-vee Triathlon- all premier racing events. Gyms are top notch and dirt cheap. Well, compared to the gyms on STT, anything is an upgrade. You want to do Crossfit? You can find it. You want to do Kosama? Not a problem. Hot yoga? Got a place. Such a pleasant and much needed change! Somehow I think all this contributed to my crazy decision to sign us up for the Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon in Vegas December 2nd...

There is a TON to do. If there's not a festival there's an event- Farmer's Market on Saturdays, Music in the Park, Live Music at Jasper Creek Winery on Thursdays, Zoo Brew, Trivia Nights, Young Professional Connection, iCubs Games (or any of the 3 other minor league teams we have)- the list goes on and on. We have more parks than I could have imagined and they have 'beaches'. I might not be able to see my hands two inches below the water but it's water! We have some great lakes and have even gotten to go out boating with friends.

Did I mention the wineries? We have quite a few around us including one in the heart of downtown. They have an Iowa Wine Passport which earns you stamps/discounts for each one you go to. Those of you that know me know I LOVE free stuff- shirts espeically- so this is right up my alley. Each of them have their own little niche and I can't wait to explore more of them and get more free stuff!

It so CLEAN. I think I may have mentioned this in a previous blog post so if I did I'm sorry but it's obviously still making an impression. Where we live everything is crisp and clean and new. We have the nicest looking Applebee's I have ever seen. In fact, Tim and I were discussing Applebee's and he didn't even realize that it was one- he thought it was a nice non-chain restaurant. Guess that's not doing wonders for them...

Here are a few fun facts I dug up:

* West Des Moines is #2 in large metro areas on the list of 'Secure Places to Live'. I guess this is why Tim has no problem not locking the door. If you're reading this honey, please still lock it!!

* The downtown buildings are connected by skywalk- nearly 4 miles of it to be exact- and is second only to Alberta, Canada in miles of skywalk per capita in North America

* Over 1 million people visit the State Fair every year (this will be my first fair, ever!)

* Remember when Ozzy Osbourne ate that bat? That was in Des Moines!

*  We have one of the shortest commutes (19.1 minutes) for a city of our size (mine is 12 minutes. A blessing compared to my hour and half commute in Chicago)

So all of you that joked about us moving to the land of corn? We actually have a cornfield in our backyard. Right down the street from our Orange Leaf. So there.

PS- I learned, much to my dismay, that I cannot walk across the street and pick that corn for dinner. Not because it's stealing but because it's feed corn, not sweet corn. There's special fields for sweet corn!  Who knew??

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Meet Laddie: The Not So Efficient Garbage Disposal

For years we have had the most well behaved puppy- and I use puppy loosely. Okay, I use well behaved pretty loosely as well. No, but seriously, Ladde has always been a pretty good dog. Occasionally she'll try to eat another dog but, as she's aged, it's usually provoked.  Raised in the height of Tim's (not to mention his 3 boy roommates) bachelorhood she was brought up to go out once in the AM and once in the PM plus she only eats when she's hungry so her dry food can be left in her bowl. She's never been sick and only sees the vet when she needs her shots or a check up for meds.

Lately she must have decided that her food just isn't good enough and started supplementing it by knocking over the trash. We tried a couple different trashcans when we moved to no avail. Either that dog knows how to step on the pedal or has an extremely strong snout. Struggling with the thought of paying $165 for a SimpleHuman Dog Proof Trashcan we simply turned it around when we would leave until we figured out what to do. Now we never thought about this as being anything more than a nuisance much less potentially deadly!

My mom came to visit just after we closed to help me pull my head out of my ass and get organized (see previous blog for further explanation) and decorate and stuff. We were out on out 462nd trip to WalMart and Bed Bath and Beyond while Tim worked on getting the garage organized. When we came back we found, you guessed it, trash all over the floor. I did a pretty standard scold and proceeded to clean it up and went on with our day. I woke up the next morning to Laddie throwing up at 6:00AM in our closet. Of COURSE she's throwing up, she ate trash!! She ate breakfast with the vengeance and a couple hours later puked all over the floor. (Endorsement: SpotShot is now my new favorite product. My brand new carpets reflect none of this whole fiasco.) I'm starting to get worried and think we should call the vet because  this dog has a stomach of steel and has eaten everything from cell phones to batteries to the couch! Her stomach shouldn't still be upset. Tim says let's give it some time so I do... I cook her rice for dinner and give her a bowl of it which she woofs down - she loves people food. It comes back up a half hour later. Thank god this time it was on the hardwood!! We agree to sleep on it and give it one more meal but I'm pretty concerned.

Monday morning I give her a SMALL amount of rice and she keeps it down. My mom and I leave for our 567th trip to return something to Target and Tim gives her a bit more before he leaves for a meeting. When we get back we have a new place to SpotShot and I immediately pick up the phone and call the vet. They are kind enough to see us in an hour, right after I drop my mom off at the airport. So I load her in the car (Note: during all this the ONLY sign that she didn't feel well was she wanted nothing to do with her ball. Other than that she was still her normal, bubbly self.) and off we go.

Our vet (Endorsement: Dr. Jaime Bunn of Waukee-Clive Vet Clinic is amazing!) felt something he didn't feel a month ago when we took her for her check up and ordered an X Ray. Here is what we found (sorry for the crappy cellphone pic):
That perfectly round white thing just above the black worm-looking thing shouldn't be there...

Unfortunately, Dr. Bunn can't determine if it's a foreign body or a growth so off we go to get an ultrasound.

At this point I'm freaking out (I seriously don't know how parents do it. Kudos to all of you.) and call Tim to meet me at Iowa Veterinary Specialties (Endorsement: They. Freaking. Rock.) He does and off goes Laddie (extremely unwillingly) for her ultrasound and off we go home because they say it'll be an hour or two. We get a call to come back quicker than expected, hop back in the car and meet with Dr. Olsen who tells us he's pretty sure it's a foreign body but it's absolutely blocking her small intestine and she needs surgery NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week but NOW.  The timing couldn't be worse- Tim's scheduled to leave the next AM on business, coming back Thursday afternoon and turning around to leave Friday until Sunday. I leave Thursday afternoon for a business trip for 10 days. It was perfect since I could walk her in the AM and he in the PM. We were having a dog walker come in the mornings and evenings to let her out the rest of the time he was gone. Not so much anymore :( Now she was going to have to stay at IVS and be medically boarded after release from the hospital $$$$$

We meet with the surgeon, Dr. Stauffer, who informs us he's not so sure it's a foreign body. Given her age and that she started digging in the trash lately (apparently that's a sign of something wrong with the liver in older dogs. Who knew?) plus the fact they found some nodules in her liver and spleen on the ultrasound he wanted to be honest and say it was likely a tumor. Great, my heart dropped. What seemed like good news didn't seem so certain anymore. They give us our estimate, we sign our bank account away and go home for the next few hours. Those hours were not so fun. We finally get the call that surgery is over and it was a foreign object (YEA!!!) and they sent off the abnormalities in her liver and spleen to be biopsied (BOO). She was out of surgery and in the hospital recovering- he had pulled out a very large ball of plastic and tape! To the best of our knowledge it is the cellophane and tape off a 4-pack of ground turkey from CostCo that I had divided up earlier that day.

Tim left for his trip at the crack of dawn and I stopped by to visit Laddie that afternoon. That little brat in her cone snubbed me as if I had put her there on purpose! In her typical fashion she had pulled out her own IV catheter so she was going to get to be released from the hospital earlier than expected and I was going to get to take her home Wednesday night!

I'm not going to lie- taking her home was hard. Emotionally and physically. Try getting a 55lb lab with a cone on that can't jump into a Prius. It was so difficult that I actually stopped by PetCo on the way home to buy those 'As Seen on TV' dog stairs to help her OUT of the car. Yeah, that didn't work. They've been boxed up and are waiting to be part of my 621st return trip. It was very hard to see her so clearly alternate between being in pain and being drugged. She just lay there for hours and then I'd have to help her get up and walk her out and help her up and down the stairs to the deck (thank god there are only two). It was pretty clear the doggie gate I bought to keep her from following me up and down the stairs was not going to be necessary. I slept on the couch that night.

I left the next day for Antigua and, luckily, Tim got home an hour or so after I left so she was only alone for a short period of time (I put the trashcan in the pantry by the way). Tim was able to shorten his trip to leaving later on Friday and coming back Saturday evening. and we were super super lucky and grateful of Tim's co-worker and his wife and daughter  who volunteered to watch Laddie while Tim was gone. Wilcox family- if you are reading this you have no idea how much we appreciate it!

This is Laddie and her new friend Hayden:

Since Tim's picked her up she's back to her old self-moving around much more and doesn't have trouble with the stairs. Two nights ago I was able to check my voicemal and had a message from IVS saying that her biopsies came back normal so we are on the right track!

Here is a picture of our new dogproof trashcan:

If only we had paid that $165 up front...

PostScript: We are so super lucky to have an amazing vet who was able to give us an even more amazing referral. Iowa Veterinary Services took care of us like you wouldn't believe. They called often to give us a status and didn't mind when I called with questions- even if it was midnight... Drs. Stauffer and Olsen were completely honest and upfront with us and I couldn't have felt more comfortable leaving Laddie in their care. We are also very grateful to have made friends like Dan and Kristin who were able to take Laddie in and saved us a lot of money not having to medically board her.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Moving: A Guide... Sort of... Okay, not really.

We all know it, there's nothing FUN about moving. Yet, somehow, we (and by 'we' I'm just assuming this happens to everyone) let the excitement of something new overshadow the ugly truth- moving SUCKS. Here's a few things I discovered we should have done/leaarned during this process:

Take your estimated expenses and double, no triple, them: You never know what will happen. Like trying to save $100 on a dog proof trashcan and ending up with a $5K vet bill after said dog eats the wrappers/tape from 4 packages of ground turkey and requires emergency surgery. Or realizing that your mattress should not have been stored standing up on it's end for 2.5 years and the movers forgot to wrap it.

Follow the 'don't' rule- don't need/use it, then don't pack it: We were in a bit of a different situation with all of our stuff being in storage. We really didn't know what we were actually unpacking (that was fun for about 3 boxes) but I really wonder what the heck I was thinking while I was packing. I know I only had 6 days to pack the entire condo AND we thought we were really only going to live on St. Thomas for 6-9 months but can someone explain the thought process I had behind packing a $1.89 (open) bag of FLOUR??? This kind of parlays into...

Become intimately familiar with Craigslist: Who needs an awesome plush king featherbed topper for their bed? Well not us anymore because (see above) we just had to buy a new mattress. What are we going to do with the 64" projection TV that was meant for the basement and can't make the turn? Gets a little too cold here in Iowa to turn the garage into a sitting area! And then there's that mattress!  How about a Playstation 2? I didn't think people even played that thing anymore (again, wth did we pack it?) but three separate people have asekd about the posting. Maybe it's because I'm bundling it with Dance, Dance Revolution...

What can go wrong, will go wrong: And you'd better be able to laugh about it or you're gonna go insane. We measured everything in this house. Except for the door to the basement. Who knew we'd have an abnormally narrow (29") door that an abnormally large couch (32") wouldn't fit through??? Tim has a plan, I'm sure there will be blog post in my future when it happens. We actually got a pretty good story out of one of our wrongs. The brand new washing machine broke on the third load-flashing error codes and door locked. Yes, my washer held our duvet covers hostage- mind you I had a zillion loads to do because everything in storage had to be washed. When I say broke, I mean BROKE. As in  for 4 days until they could deliver a new one. Even the installers couldn't figure it out. They had to take my washer back to the store with the laundry in it and deliver it to me later in the week. Apparently this has NEVER happened before to Nebraska Furniture Mart. I've made my mark :) they know me not by name but as 'the girl whose clothes were held hostage by the washer.' This leads me to...

You will spend many days not REALLY getting dressed: I wore yoga pants and running shorts so many days in a row that when I went to our PO Box to get the mail dressed, with make up on and my hair down the guys that work there didn't know who I was. True story. Ouch.

Things you think you will use right away, nope: Given my love of baths and the fact I wasn't able to take one while we lived on the rock I pretty much bet I would be in the tub that first night!! Not so much. First you have to find the towels, that only took me about a day and a half. Then they had to be washed. See above, they were not in the first two loads. By the time I had towels I was working so feverishly at unpacking that I could barely pour myself into bed at night, much less laid in the tub and not drowned. We'll have been in here for two weeks tomorrow and it has yet to happen.

You will become incapable of making even the simplest decisions: Yes, it's exciting to have new places to put things- especially in the kitchen- but after getting everything out of the boxes (and washed by the way) I was a bumbling idiot. For the life of me I couldn't decide where to put a thing and I just walked around the kitchen island picking things up and putting things back down on the counter. This transferred to most shopping trips- I'd stand in Walmart or Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond and not be able to pick out a freaking spicerack (because FYI spices do not last 2.5 years in storage)! Don't get me started on where to hang things- that would be why there is a pile of wall art leaning against the dining room wall. For all my friends/family who have built their houses I applaud you.

Cashiers & Customer Service Reps will know you by name: I've gotten REALLY good and making the 'loop' of stores here in West Des Moines. I go to Bed, Bath and Beyond, then the JC Penney Home Store, then Target, then Walmart then CostCo. I buy whatever I think will work. Then I take back 90% of it. You should see our credit card statement. Tim can't even yell at me because he likely can't make heads or tails out of it! Now that I've discovered Big Lots (Dad- you were right all these years. I'm sorry) and the Dollar Store I'm going to have to adjust my route...

You bought it, it broke, you'll buy it again: Our final breakage tally: 1 champagne flute, 1 martini glass, 1 wine glass. If you know us, you know we have PLENTY of back up of each. 1 dinner plate, 1 square side plate, 1 round side plate, 1 serving platter and 1 serving bowl. All from our everyday dishes and all still available online at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Woot woot! 1 (out of 2) really cool Ikea lamp that I found on eBay. Not sure if it's the right size til it gets here.. Regardless, not bad!! Of course, I'm not telling you about the things that grew mold on them in storage that were tossed :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Cardinals Fan in Cub Territory

This isn't the first time I've lived in Cubs territory- I spent 8 years in Chicago for goodness sake- but this is the first time (minus one tipsy purchase of a floppy Cubs hat) I'm conflicted about who to root for. Yesterday at the game I found myself unintentionally cheering for the dirty Cubs. Yep, you heard me right. Please just hear me out.

* For starters they aren't really the Cubs, they are the Iowa Cubs- referred to here as simply 'I-Cubs'. Yes, I understand they are part of the overall (evil) organization. Yes, I understand that I-Cubs generally become Cubs. But they are KIDS! I mean it- I referred to half the team as pint-sized. The other half was full sized boys or just full grown. You wouldn't root against kids, would you?

* Minor League stadiums are very intimate which means your voice carries loud and clear. If you're rooting for the other team it is BEYOND obvious. Trust me. It's not like big parks where just the people around you know you're rooting against the beloved home team, here everyone knows. And stares. With evil stares. Now, I'll have no problem rooting for the Memphis Cardinals when they are here. I'm also guessing there will be more people on our side for those games vs. yesterday when it was the Texas Ranger's AAA team. However, yesterday I found myself getting into it with the crowd. I actually had to turn to Tim a couple times and say I forget who I'm supposed to be cheering for...

* It's cheap. I mean cheaper than cheap. Not just tickets- EVERYTHING! And because of that we now have A LOT of tickets. Originally we had bought a Groupon of 10 tickets for $25- that's $2.50/ticket! We were able to upgrade our GA tickets to first row for $5 more. That made our tickets $7.50 - the SAME price as our 24 oz beer we bought! Which leads me to how we got our next group of 10 tickets...For $35 you can join the I-Cubs Beer Mug Club. Yep, I said Beer Mug Club. That buys you 5 tickets and a reusable 18 oz mug. The mug gets filled for $4 and, on Thursdays, your first beer is FREE! Don't even get me started on the cost of suites or the party deck...

* They serve beer until the end of the 9th inning. No joke. We heard last call when there were 2 outs in the 9th. I don't need to further elaborate on this.

* Seeing the kids get so excited to do all things Minor League parks offer is heartwarming- the games between innings, the t-shirts and hotdogs they shoot out of cannons (yes, I said hot dogs), the foul balls (there is actually a voiceover that says 'Give it to a kid' when an adult catches it) and getting balls from the guys in the bullpen. They all look so cute in their I-Cubs gear and it's the innocence that makes me feel bad if I root against them. Not to mention these kids will have a rude awakening if they ever get to go to Wrigley. Why kick 'em while they're down when they don't even know they are?!

* Tony LaRussa was an I-Cub! Yep, had to see it with my own eyes! I had no idea TLR was one not just once, but twice!

Maybe he'll come back to his old stomping grounds now that he's retired!

So that's my argument. What do you think? What if I solemnly swear to never purchase any I-Cubs gear? No matter how many times my mug is refilled..

Friday, April 6, 2012

Make New Friends but Keep the Old!

(If you were, at any point in time, a Girl Scout I bet you just sang 'One is silver and the other's gold' either outloud or to yourself. I know I did! Let's do it in rounds girls!!!)

Okay, now that we're past that... have you ever thought about HOW you make friends? I hadn't, it's always come pretty naturally to me. I think I'm pretty laid back and get along with most people so making friends has never been an issue. Let's look at major life changes in the Timeline of Mary where making new friends was necessary:

Kindergarten (1985): Making friends at this age is pretty natural. You borrow a red crayon or share your cookies and voila.

Move (1990): This one was a bit tougher. Luckily it was only 5th grade and that's generally before girls get catty. At least it was back then. I have a feeling, with the way the world is now, that might start in Kindergarten these days... You hang out on the playground, maybe play some foursquare (the game with the red ball, not the Ap) and make friends in your subdivision by riding bikes and playing freeze tag.

High School (1993): Living in St. Louis and going to Catholic grade school it was a natural choice for me to go to a all girls Catholic high school. In fact, I never thought twice about NOT going to one. So unlike my friends in public junior highs who would travel on to high school with the same group of friends, there were only two of us from my grade school that went to Nerinx. I remember meeting several girls at uniform fitting and when we had to buy our books- actually, that may have been the same day- but until those first days of school it's few and far between. Still, it's school and you find out who has the same interests as you through many channels- your classes, sports, extracurricular activities, mixers, etc.

College (1997): Who doesn't make friends in college? There's thousands of teenagers living on their own with newfound freedom! Making friends is natural- be it in the dorms, during rush, in class or at bars- there's a common ground that everyone is standing on.

Move to Chicago/First Job (2001): I moved with my best friend who I met in high school and lived with 3 of our 4 years at Mizzou plus another one of our friends. We knew a handful of people in Chicago including some family. This was an adventure! My first job was with Hyatt and I made some of my closest friends to date there. 3 of them were bridesmaids in my wedding! One came to visit me on St. Thomas THREE times all the way from San Diego. I'm Facebook friends with, I think, nearly all the people that were in the Sales Office during my two years there. I talk to quite a few of them on a regular basis. And the ones I don't talk to quite as often? I can pick up the phone or run into them and we fall right back into conversation like we just talked two weeks ago. Those friends made in the office also because the core group of friends I hung out with after work, on weekends, etc.

Move to St. Thomas (2009): We were lucky enough to have our friend Billy C. give us the names of his good friends before we moved and they quickly turned into some of our best friends. I honestly don't know what we would have done without Kate or Potter when we got there! Both of them took us under their wings and showed us the ropes which included me getting a job and making a circle of girlfriends that are second to none. I thank my lucky stars that we had the opportunity to experience what we did on the rock and I'll never forget the friendships I made there.

What do every one of those situations have in common? I was in a situation where meeting people was not only easy, it was unavoidable. It's not so much about making friends but having the opportunity to meet them. That brings us to where we are now- having just moved to Iowa. So what's the difference you ask? We're not in a situation where we are thrown in naturally to seeing people on a daily basis. For starters, neither Tim nor I go into an office on a daily basis. Tim has a great team (with great families) but it's always different when you spend 8 hours a day in an office with someone. We know about 3 people here and it's been challenging trying to get together with them- schedules, time, etc. just haven't meshed. Plus, you never want to feel like you're intruding on people's lives. Ironically, one of these people is a girl I worked with back at Hyatt in Chicago! Second, I have a lot of travel coming up with my freelancing. I'm gone end of April/early May, late May through mid-June and end of July/early August. Boo.

So this means we have to make a concerted effort to meet people so we can make friends! How? Well, this is what I've come up with so far:

The Gym: Everyone said joining a gym will help make friends and I get it. It's camaraderie, especially in classes. However, so far, I've found that while people are friendly at the gym and talk before/after classes this doesn't necessarily translate into hanging out outside the gym.

Young Professionals Connection: We joined this group last week and went to the New Member gathering the same day. Seems promising- people around our age who are professionals and active in the community. They have a ton of events planned and plenty of opportunities to get involved. It is whatever you want to make it. I'm looking forward to this one!

Meetup Groups: This one is new to me. I had never heard of Meet Ups before and I can't quite remember how I found them but they are basically groups of people that share common interests. There's one for singles, one for knitters, several for moms. There's one for JUST about everything it seems. The one that intrigued me was the Couples Meeting Couples. We've met several couples here that seem like a blast to hang out with- we have yet to meet one without kids. It is quite obvious that, here in Iowa, we are WAY behind in this area. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we don't want to hang out with our friends with kids but I can't just call them up on a whim and expect them to be able to hang out that night. So as long as this Couples Meeting Couples doesn't have a freaky deaky side to it we will be checking them out soon.

Sports: It sounds like the YPC will coincide with this one. Unfortunately we got here too late for the indoor wiffleball season but YPC does soccer, volleyball, dodgeball, softball- just about anything you'd want to play! I'm looking forward to it!

Church: I know this one will take a good lot of you by surprise but it's true. It's certainly not a matter of whether or not you are a practicing Christian here but what kind. It's happened quite a bit and I'm okay with it. People ask if you're Catholic and tell you that you need to go to St. Francis. I'm anxious to check it out!

Bike Clubs: Biking is HUGE in Iowa. Trails (really nice paved trails) connect soooo much. Tim's boss is part of a group that bikes to a bar every Wednesday. They also bike to a Farmer's Market every weekend. You can bike from our new house all the way downtown without setting foot (wheel?) in traffic- awesome! My bike will be here Wednesday and we just have to purchase a new one for Tim. We kind of forgot it was stolen out of our garage in Chicago before we moved...

All in all we have a lot of options and I'm excited to explore Des Moines (did I mention there are 15 wineries with an hour!?!?) and all it has to offer. Of course, I'm always up for suggestions! And visitors from my 'old' friends :)