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The last 6 months (plus some) have been probably the most busy, stressful, and rewarding months of my life. Three major projects, all leading up to their own training meeting, in the matter of 6 months. To put that in perspective, the average timeline for these types of projects is typically somewhere between 3-4 months each, ideally more.
I can't give too many details (confidentiality, and all that), but my first project was the launch of a new product for the rare disease, acromegaly. The training meeting took place in January, at the Gaylord in Washington DC. The training was really well received, and our client and the brand members were all thrilled with how things went.
As the week went on, I noticed a lot less 'business suits' milling around the hotel, and a lot more… cosplayers. Turns out there was a video game convention going on the week after our meeting was over. And who walks in as we're waiting in the lobby to leave, but Sim! It was a brief encounter since we were on our way out, but coincidences like this never cease to amaze me.
Once we got back to CT, it was a mad rush to work on the next project, which was launching a hemophilia product in Las Vegas in March. This meeting was a little more chaotic, because our original client had moved on to another job, leaving his much less organized team to keep things moving. Otherwise, we pushed through it and had a successful meeting with only a few small hiccups.
My boss was cool enough to let me stay in Vegas a couple of extra days, since I'd never been and wanted a chance to explore. A good friend from college flew out and joined me, so we were able to do the tourist thing for a couple of days, which was some much-needed fun.
We saw the Las Vegas sign (it was snowing back home as I was getting this picture taken, so that was a plus)…
Saw Penn and Teller, then met them after the show…
Took a road trip to the Grand Canyon, which was pretty… grand…
And a whole bunch of other stuff, like walked the Strip, rode the High Roller, visited the Pawn Stars store, saw the Bellagio water show, and ate dinner where Frank Sinatra used to hang out. I tried getting Jesse to come hang out with us, but she had WORK. Also, I can officially say that I've won a jack pot in Las Vegas… it was on a penny slot machine and it was $28, but hey, I'll take it.
It was a fun trip, but I'm not sure if I'd be interested in going back. It didn't leave me saying "I HAVE to come back to see more" like my trip to New Orleans did. Mostly it left me saying "Ugh, public transportation here SUCKS" and "Why do we have to go THROUGH the casino in order to get to [insert just about anything here, be it a restaurant, the taxi stand, the pool, a vending machine, etc]?"
And finally, this last week completed a merged training, which was the biggest challenge I've faced as a producer yet. Two brands, two different workshops each, both with workshops happening at the same time. Tons of props, materials, details that needed to be paid attention to. Thankfully I had a great team to work with, and we shouldered through. There was one snafu on the last day that my boss was pissed about, but the clients didn't think it was a big deal. They gave me BIG props at the very end (right in front of my boss), so I'm hoping that cooled her jets a little, and I won't be chewed out for it.
I got to stay one extra day down in Florida, which gave me the opportunity to see the folks I consider my 'second' set of parents. We spent the short time we had mostly relaxing, but I got to try out kayaking for the first time with them, which was a blast. I wanted to see a Manatee, but no such luck… instead, I scared the crap out of myself by thinking that a log underwater was an alligator.
And to wrap things up, yesterday my younger sister graduated with her Masters Degree! I'm super proud of her. She's never been much of a student, but I pushed her to continue, since her major (psychology) NEEDS at least a Masters to really be considered. Got me a little jealous too… my family always thought I'd be the first one to get my Masters… almost makes me want to go back. (Insert 'THREE DEGREES' joke here.)
All in all, its been a REALLY busy time in my life. Time for a break. I think I'll get that when I'm up in Maine with most of you guys, come June.
When I wrote my last entry, I still had three more races to go this year, all of which took place in September. So now that I've had a bit of time to recover, let's take a look back on this insanity that I've taken up as a pastime, shall we?
First up was the Surftown 5K, our only 'regular' 5K. It took place in Misquamicut, Rhode Island, on the roads that run along the beautiful shoreline. The 'Main Event' was technically the half marathon, but I'm most definitely not at that level yet. I was pleased with my timing though… my first mile I ran in about 10 minutes, my second mile was about 11 minutes, and my third was about 12 minutes. And since I was expected to run a 12 minute mile back in high school, I think I did pretty well!
We made this one a 'girl's weekend' type thing. Left to right: Me, my aunt, my older sister, our cousin, my younger sister, and a friend. The run started early, so we reserved a hotel room for the night before and went full-on carb dinner that night.
My older sister and our friend actually ran the half marathon, and didn't do too shabby.
Those of us that ran the 5K had to wait a little while for the two that did the half marathon, but it made for great people watching (how anyone can run 13+ miles and look like they're not even winded baffles me). And gave it a bit more time for the day to warm up… so we could get ready to hit up the beach!
When we were wandering down the beach, we noticed that the Mile 13 marker (the one everyone passed right before the finish line) was in the trash! So we took it.
They did have some in-course photographers, but unfortunately I'd need to pay for the pictures. I'm torn, since they're a bit on the expensive side ($50+ for the full 12, $15 for individual digital, or $9 for individual printed), and I honestly can't tell from the thumbnails which ones are any good.
Once we all crossed the finish line, we spent the rest of the day at the beach… and our hotel's bar, conveniently located on the beach. It made for a really great weekend.
The next weekend was the Warrior Dash, which meant obstacles and mud! A friend of ours has been running in the early competitive wave, then running again with us during our waves (and you thought I was hardcore), which means he has no problem hanging back with our older sister (while I give the girl credit for being able to run the half marathon, her pace is just too slow for the rest of us). There was a brief period of time where I was on my own for this one, but I quickly caught up with my younger sister and our friend.
Plenty of mud in this one!
PLENTY OF MUD.
Wow, big picture is BIG. All in all, our group did pretty well with this one. (This is the only race I've gotten my boyfriend to go to… he's second from the left.)
So this race was on Saturday… and Sunday was an all-day trip to the Big E, a huge New England themed fair up in Sass' neck of the woods. Most running experts probably wouldn't recommend beer and fried EVERYTHING as recovery food, but what do those experts know anyways?
Finally, the next weekend was the Rugged Maniac. I have to say that this was probably the toughest race yet. It took place mostly on a motocross track, so it was a LOT of running on sand, up and down steep hills, and the obstacles actually proved to be challenging in various ways, including balance, upper body strength, and hand/eye coordination. Although challenging, it was a BLAST, and I'm already signed up for next year. It also produced my absolute FAVORITE picture from these runs, and you'll see why.
Not the PRETTIEST picture, but this obstacle looked a lot harder than in was. A bit of balance and timing was all you needed… and the bags really weren't that heavy.
OK, this one was less of an obstacle and more of a "I wanna climb the ladder just to ride down that 50 foot slide!" I felt a little bad for Steve (guy in green on the right)… he traveled right over into where I was headed on the slide, and as a result he got my feet into his ribs at the end.
I ALMOST lost it on this obstacle, as simple as it looks. A few 'lily pads' floating on the water that you had to jump across. The trick was to land as close to the middle as possible.
And here it is… this is the my favorite picture out of the bunch. Simply because after staring at it blankly for a few minutes, my first thought was, "…I LOOK MAJESTIC AS FUCK." Of course it looks a tad silly since the moment the photo was taken the fire looked like it was out, so I'm just jumping over some charred logs. But I died laughing when I saw this one.
But yes, as mentioned, this one was the hardest race I've ever completed. The day before I had to leave early to travel up to Lake George, New York, for my friend's bachelorette party. I stayed the night up there, then left early to get to Massachusetts for the race.
That might have been part of the difficulty, but honestly, this is the only race that I haven't been able to complete an obstacle on. There was a 'monkey bars' style obstacle, only instead of bars, there were rings, and you had to use momentum to swing across. I missed on the third ring and fell into the muddy water. And then the last obstacle was a BEAST they called 'The Warped Wall'… and it… well, its this:
It required a running start that brought you as far up the wall without going horizontal, a leap for the edge, then a lot of upper body strength to pull yourself over (or friends already at the top to help with that). My first try didn't work, and I slid down on my side (a decision I would later SERIOUSLY regret, because I left some skin on the slide). Second time I was able to (barely) get to the ledge and get pulled over. 50 yards beyond that was the hard-earned finish line.
That was the last of it in terms of running races for me this year. I'm already planning next year, and it includes at least four additional races, one of which will be a Spartan race. I'll be honest, I haven't been doing a great job of hitting up the gym in these last few weeks, so hopefully I don't get TOO out of shape. I've gotta collect more shiny things!
I've taken up running a bit more lately. While I can't say that I've reached the point where I think "RUNNING IS FUN", I've realized recently that the more I improve, the more enthusiastic I become about it, and vice versa.
What spawned this sudden interest in running was, oddly enough, the nerd in me. Last summer, my sister wanted someone to run with her in the Warrior Dash. I agreed… on the condition that we also run in the 'Run for your Lives' 5K, which I had been interested in trying for the sheer reason that it was a zombie-themed race. We ran both races that summer, and I had an absolute BLAST.
So this summer, we've bumped it up to a total of 6 different runs.
In June, we ran in Zombie Charge, another zombie-themed 5K. Each runner is given three flags (like flag football), which are their 'lives'. They then run the course, which is filled with obstacles and 'zombies', doing their damnedest to avoid having their lives taken by the zombies. Its a stupidly fun run, especially if you and other runners build a team to take on the zombies and help each other out.
This was our team at the beginning. Me, my sisters, cousin, and a couple of friends.
This was our 'team' by the end. We all just 'adopted' each other as the race progressed.
Throughout the race there was mud and obstacles in addition to the zombies, and they finished it off with a soaped up slide to the finish line. At this point I knew that I had 'survived'… there were no more zombies, and I still had one of my lives.
And whether you survived or not, once you crossed the finish line, you got a medal. It was the same with 'Run for your Lives', only at RFYL, survivors earned a different medal than those who came out 'infected'.
The very next weekend in June, we ran the 'Down and Dirty Mud Run'… which is exactly what it sounds like. A little over 3 miles of obstacles and mud pits. This race was actually the first time I was able to keep a slow, steady jog for most of the race.
Down and Dirty:
And after pics.
Some the 'obstacles' were pretty lame (in the feedback survey I told them that if I wanted to do 20 pushups, I could do that at home without paying for it), but for the most part, they were solid. My braid was a chunk of mud by this point in the race.
No upclose pictures of the medal (see the 'after' picture, where we're wearing it), but we got this picture at the finish line. I'm still not sure if the mud or shadow is causing an illusion, or if I really am that jacked in my right arm.
And in July, my younger sister and I ran in 'Run or Dye'. No obstacles in this one, but throughout the 3+ miles, there are 'color stations' where people pelt you with this colored corn-starch-type-stuff, so you come out covered in various colors. We're thinking that next year we'll make it a bit more interesting by running with a soccer ball between us or something.
Run or Dye:
You can tell what color they had the most of by the end of the event. The way it fell makes it look like I have sunblock on my nose.
No in-race photos from this one, unfortunately. They said that they'd have photographers out there, but there wasn't a single one. Bummer.
And that's all we've gotten to so far. September has the remaining three 5Ks, three weekends in a row; first up is Surftown 5K (our only 'regular', plain ol' running 5K), then Warrior Dash and Rugged Maniac (more obstacle courses and mud).
All-in-all, the races are a ton of fun. It has been motivating… I'm signed up for all of these races, should make sure I'm in shape for them. In addition to running, I've been doing a lot of strength training with my boyfriend lately (not THAT kind), so that helps at least a bit with the obstacles. And we're planning on adding even more next year, so I can't slack off during the winter. Just gotta keep running!
Life Update, Part 3 - Guess I had to grow up sometime
I haven't been very vocal about it (in fact, besides my family and a few select friends, I don't think anyone really knows), but at age 27, I've finally moved out of my parent's place.
Because my job has been going so well, I've been able to DESTROY the amount of debt I had… in the two and a half years I've worked here, I've paid off my credit card, my car, and two student loans. I've managed to get my debt from somewhere around $35,000 to around $9,000. (Insert joke about American Colleges here.)
Either way, such an insane amount of debt is what kept me at my parent's in the first place. I told my boyfriend that it wouldn't be fair of me to move in with him if I was saddled with so much debt. Once I finished paying off my car last November, I was more comfortable with the idea. But between work keeping me busy and a few false starts involving the apartment we were waiting on, things were just held up. It finally worked out in early July, and we've been officially living in the apartment together for about 3 weeks now.
Of course, what's a journal update about a new place without a few PICTURES?
Pictures of the Place:
It's nothing to look at from the outside, so I won't bore you with those. Just know that its a third floor apartment. The door is technically on the second floor, then we have to walk up another set of stairs, making it an almost loft-ish apartment.
This here is the bedroom, obviously. I think we went a bit crazy getting a king-size bed, but my boyfriend couldn't be happier. He's one of those 'don't touch me when I'm sleeping' types. I'm just glad the damn thing fits in the room… when I first saw it, I didn't think we'd have any space left. Also, for the first time in my life, I have a closet ALL TO MYSELF. Woo! Only bummer is that you HAVE to go through the bedroom to get to the bathroom. Not the most ideal thing for guests.
When you first walk up the indoor stairs, the bedroom is to your left, and the living area is in front of you. Its an extremely long room… I'm planning on using the couch and/or chair to divide the room into two. First half will be a living room with the tv, coffee table, couch, etc, while the back half will become more of an office area, where I'll keep my desk and books. This part will also store my comics.
Right off of the living area is the kitchen, which needs a bit of fixing, but its getting there. I'm just excited to have counter space to actually make food!
The apartment is pretty much connected to the restaurant I worked at until a few years ago, so nearly every time I walk outside, I smell bacon. The guy who owns the restaurant is also the landlord, which is a small point of contention between my boyfriend and I. I've known Bill (landlord) since I was 12. He's a good family friend, and like a cousin to me. So I have no problem telling him if something is wrong with the apartment. My boyfriend, on the other hand, currently works at the restaurant, and can only see Bill as his Boss. So he doesn't want to bother his boss with 'little things' like kitchen cabinets that are off their hinges, or loose electrical sockets.
Its definitely been an adjustment living with my boyfriend. He's a night-owl to the extreme, whereas I prefer to be in bed by 10:30, if I can help it. He has almost no problem leaving a heap of clothes in the corner by his dresser, I have a set place for everything. The WORST part is that he's a smoker. And that's bad enough in itself, but he's a MESSY smoker. The kind of smoker who, if he doesn't have an ashtray RIGHT next to him, will use whatever's available… tub, toilet, coffee mug, empty Snapple bottle, sink, etc. In fact, he didn't even HAVE an ashtray until I unpacked one for him about a week ago. So that's something we're working on.
And I'm sure there are things I do that have gotten under his skin too. I'm the type who waits until the dishwasher is full to run it. He sees a couple pots and a couple plates in it and decides its good to go. He's a cook (not quite at Cody-level, but I wouldn't mind seeing the two of them in a cook-off), so grocery shopping has certainly shown our different food preferences.
So yeah, it will continue to be an adjustment. Its certainly been an adventure. I expect to have the apartment in a bit more order by the end of this weekend, so I'll get some pictures of the 'finished product' when that happens.
I guess I had to grow up sometime, right? My mom would probably prefer me staying at home a little longer, but that's what moms are for.
TL;DR: It's not THAT long of an entry, just read it you lazy fucker! <3
I had been planning on writing these 'life update' entries a little closer together… like, maybe a week apart, tops. But then life happens, and WELP. This update is a bit more light-hearted than my last one, but not as fun/exciting as the next entries I have planned.
WERK WERK WERK:
Things at work have been crazy. I've moved 'up' in the small world that is my office by being asked to move downstairs. It sounds silly, but it was actually a bit of an honor to have my boss ask me to take the desk that two of the most important producers of the company used when they were here. I was a bit hesitant at first, only because I really enjoyed the camaraderie the upstairs part of our office had, but realized that if I declined the change in location, my boss would probably interpret that as me not wanting to change my role within the business. I actually really enjoy my new location; my 'roommate' is awesome, and for the most part, its much quieter… probably because I'm no longer dealing with ADHD Co-Worker and New Kid.
You might remember New Kid and ADHD Co-Worker… well, both of them are still here, and now we have a New Guy (not to be confused with New KID). However, unlike the other two, New Guy is actually proving himself useful. He was hired as an Operations Manager and has been working to make the team more efficient, processes more streamlined, and the business more profitable. He's basically a new boss, but unlike the owner, he knows how to keep a cool head. He's a decent guy, and as far as I can tell, has been a great help in steering the company in the right direction.
And although I can't get my hopes up, that direction seems to be steering AWAY from ADHD Co-Worker. Since one of New Guy's tasks is to make sure the business is profitable, he's spent a lot of time going over time sheets and productivity… and has noticed the disparity between ADHD's time spent on something and the quality of it. Recently, ADHD threw the biggest hissy fit at him, because he switched around the upstairs room… making it so that ADHD's computer screen could be seen by anyone walking by. No more video games or movies? What is ADHD going to spend his day doing? Unlike the boss, New Guy has seen through ADHD's bullshit, and is ready/willing to document any future issues, so that they can be used as justification to let ADHD go, if that's what it comes down to. And documentation is now needed, because the last time the boss dared to threaten ADHD's job, ADHD played the race card. He's such a classy guy.
As for New Kid, although he's far from ideal, he's improved. Back in January, he was in a SERIOUS car accident that put him in the hospital for a couple months. One of his legs was completely crushed… but he's lucky that that was all (remember, he drives a SMART Car… well, drove one). He's been back since April, still walks around with a cane. He's moved on from licking the boss' shoes to idolizing New Guy… and it's actually made him a bit more tolerable. Of course, I'm sure it helps that I don't need to share a room with him anymore.
As for me, I'm at the very end of my most recent major project, with a really short breather before the next one kicks off. I expect this next project will be a bit more of a challenge than the others. The client as already proven to be a bit difficult (we get him a piece for review on Monday afternoon, he waits until Friday morning to get us his changes, knowing full well that the deadline in the system is noon on Friday), and its a product launch, which means major publicity, both within the company and externally.
Its been a wild ride the last year or so… it was probably about this time that I received my first project as a producer. It was a small thing… a couple of curriculum guides. Since then, I've been the producer on several other small projects, a major training event consisting of three national brands that ended in New Orleans, and am just finishing up a five-workshop training event for another client. Now I'm about to start a project for a new drug indication that will be broken up into two parts over the next six months; the PI Launch will take place in Miami in October, and the Promo Launch in Vegas in January.
I tell you what… this isn't want I planned on doing when I was in college. But I'll be damned if I'm not loving the path my career has taken.
Wow, I can't believe that its been 6+ months since I've updated my journal. I don't think I've ever gone that long before. But a bunch of crazy things have been going on, some good, some bad… so I figured that I'd update my good friends at Gamingforce. There are some things you just can't convey over Facebook.
Part 1 - My Father, the Alcoholic:
To start, my dad was recently hospitalized. I don't think I've ever vocalized here on the boards (besides to a select few members) how much of an alcoholic he is… and has been my whole life. I might have mentioned it briefly in one of my first journal entries, but dropped it after that.
My dad has always been a heavy drinker. I thought it had hit its high point (or lowest point, depending on how you look at it) around my senior year of high school, when he was averaging about a 30-rack a day. Around that time was when he was first hospitalized… he had a seizure after spending a day outside in really hot weather, not drinking anything. For the next 3-4 years he remained sober, but eventually started sneaking 12-packs in the house.
Recently, he reached a new high (low) point. He was back to drinking about a 30-rack a day. He called out of work at least once a week on the pretense of being 'sick', when he was really just hungover. The days he DID go to work, he'd pack a small cooler with beers to drink on his breaks, along with some mouthwash to mask the smell… and he probably drank that too, why lie.
At age 59, he convinced himself that he was an 'old man', and walked around the house, hunched over, feet shuffling, wearing sweatpants, slippers, and a thick bathrobe, even in the middle of summer. And lets not forget about the adult diapers… Due to cancer, he had his prostate removed almost 5 years ago, but he was too lazy to do the exercises his doctor told him about in order to retrain his bladder. Rather, he was wearing adult diapers… constantly having accidents because of the sheer volume of beer he was drinking.
He never sat down to eat. If he bothered to make a meal at all, he'd leave it on the stove, and every time he'd go out to the kitchen to get a beer, he'd take a bite. If he ate anything more than a couple bites at a time, it wouldn't agree with all of the beer in his stomach, and he'd end up puking. And it was always the food's fault. Often times, he didn't make it to the toilet on time. Sometimes he did a half-ass job of cleaning it, which my mom always ended up finishing. Other times, he'd deny that it was him… as if one of us had been the one who puked on the floor, and was blaming him.
More recently, he started falling. At first it was only when he was carrying something, such as a bag of laundry. If it was heavier than a 30-rack of beer, he couldn't carry it without struggling. Going up the stairs to our second-floor apartment left him winded.
On the morning of June 9th, I was in the bathroom getting ready for work, and heard a loud bang. When I came out, my dad was on the floor. I could only stare as he struggled to get up, finally getting himself into a sitting position. Once I moved, he crawled into the bathroom and closed the door.
That was also the day he decided to quit his job.
The next week, he spent all of his time on the couch in his pjs, drinking. Its almost funny… only a few days before, I'd been talking with a friend about my dad, and said something along the lines of "I don't know how he could possibly drink more than he does now." Well, he figured out how… quit his job and he suddenly has free time to drink more. He fell about 4 more times in the next week.
Finally, it was my little sister Angie, the least jaded one of us all, who decided to give him a chance. On June 15th, she brought him to the hospital, after he'd gone into our room, disoriented, asking her the date, the time, and talking about his job, despite quitting nearly a week before. It scared her enough to ask him to go with her to the hospital. He agreed, taking a swig of beer at the same time. When he was changing, mom and Angie saw all of the bruises caused by his falling.
The hospital admitted him, supposedly, for 'low sodium levels'. He had several seizures that night, as his body went into detox. When I visited him the next day, any movements he made were shaky. He was knocked out for the most part, but they still had his legs restrained.
He was there the rest of the week. When the social worker mentioned 'rehab', he agreed, which got all of our hopes up… until the social worker clarified that it was physical therapy. Angie asked her to bring up alcoholic rehab, and my dad's response was, "Well, I don't think I have a problem. But if it will make her [indicating Angie] happy, whatever."
He was moved to a rehab center… conveniently it was the rehab center that my older sister, Mandy, used to work for. It was there that we received all of the test results that the hospital had neglected to show us, including the result that my dad has acute Alcohol Hepatitis. When asked how I feel about this… honestly, its relief. Some people might think I'm a terrible person for being happy that my dad was diagnosed with a liver disease, but I see it like this: For the first time ever, my dad can't say "It's not the alcohol." Its an illness caused by alcohol. And he can either choose to stop drinking… or choose to kill himself with booze.
The day before he was set to be discharged from the rehab center, we all had a meeting… essentially an intervention. Right off the bat, he said he was going to stop drinking… but not because he thought he had a problem. When I asked his reasons for stopping, it was "Because it's making me sick!"
We can tell he's not all all determined to stop. When we were discussing things he could drink besides beer, he said that he would still be drinking N/A beer, because he liked the taste. I immediately told him no, he wouldn't. N/A beer still contains alcohol. So he snapped back, "So does mouthwash!", to which Angie responded, "Yeah… and we've already dumped that." His reaction was to throw up his arms in exasperation.
He's attended a couple meetings of AA, but his attitude about it has basically been "Why do I have to sit around and listen to other people's problems?" When mom picked him up from the last meeting he went to, he said to her, "Compared to some of those guys, I was drinking chocolate milk!"… like being a drunk off liquor is worse than being a drunk off beer.
My dad has been home for about a week now, and, as far as we can tell, hasn't had any alcohol. We've taken away his keys, so he can't drive… its only been by sheer luck that he hasn't killed anyone, since he's never thought twice about drinking while driving. His walking has improved, although now his ankles are swelling. His blood pressure is down.
If I'm honest with myself, I don't believe that he's done drinking. People like him need to hit a serious low to get themselves to admit they have a problem. I'm convinced he won't hit that low point unless my mom leaves him. She told him during the intervention that this was his last shot… if he started up again, she would leave him. And I'm not sure if that would force him to realize that he had a problem… or if it would just cause him to drink himself to death.
My older sister despises beer. My younger sister only likes Bud Light. And me… well, I'll be honest, I love beer. Big beers, craft beers, home brews… I'll try them all at least once. That's probably one of the few things I have in common with my dad. And I guess I have something to thank him for… because I've seen him go through all of this, I have an awareness that its ok to love beer… just not as much as he does.
TL;DR: My dad is an alcoholic and was diagnosed with Alcohol Hepatitis. We're now hoping he'll stop being such a pathetic drunk, but aren't holding our breath.
It's been almost two weeks since my trip to New Orleans ended. It feels like I'll never catch up on the sleep I lost on the road to getting there (which is saying something; I didn't even go there to party), but all in all, I'd do it all over again if I had to.
I've been pretty quiet about it, mostly because I've been entangled in my work. My company produces training for pharmaceutical companies, most of which have their big conferences at the beginning of every year. Quite by accident I was made a producer for one big training project spanning three different brands, all to come together at this big conference in New Orleans. It felt much longer than it actually was (projects kicked off around mid October), and there were some 70 hour work weeks mixed in that made me question what in the hell I was doing. But it all came together nicely, my boss was happy, the clients were happy, and I've pretty much secured myself as the producer for all projects associated with these three brands.
Unfortunately, I can't talk too much about the business side of things that happened during my time in NOLA... confidentiality, and all that legal stuff. But during the meeting we had a few opportunities to get out (mostly for dinner), and almost a whole day before our flight left. I wasn't disappointed. Not that I needed to get out to see all the sights. Here's the view from the hotel:
First, the food. Its a super food-centric city, and I tried every traditional food I could. Just about everything had a kick to it, which I absolutely loved. Gumbo, étouffée, beignets, muffalettas, po'boys, pralines, collard greens, and just some good 'home cooking'. Missed out on jumbalya though.
The po'boy was a BBQ Shrimp po'boy from the fancy restaurant in the hotel, was the first thing I ate in NOLA, and actually made me sick (Actually, I'm not sure if it was the food that made me sick, or the nerves at the start of the meeting). Later that day, we went to a place called Mother's, which showed me what a REAL po'boy looked like... and I regretted that my stomach still felt off, preventing me from trying the authentic NOLA staple.
At Sim's recommendation, we ventured to Cafe Du Mond, for the Beignets. Sim. Sorry I didn't tell you'd I'd be down there, but I knew I'd have next to no time to meet up. But you were spot on with Cafe Du Mond.
Naturally, I came out covered in confectioners sugar. Delicious, delicious sugar. Best hot chocolate I've ever had.
Oh yeah, and craft beers. Aw yeahhhhh (even though my co-worker pointed out that the frosty glass makes it look like pudding in this picture).
It have to say that even though it wasn't as warm down there as I would have liked, it helped clear up the sore throat/cold that I'd had for nearly 3 weeks. But its easy to forget about the 'cold' 55 they had down there when there's palm trees and trollies everywhere.
You know what else was everywhere? Mardi Gras beads.
Unsurprisingly, neither one of my sisters were willing to wear this if I bought it for them. (For those confused... Skills... this is what boobs look like! )
And, of course, the music. Music on every corner. In every bar and restaurant. I ventured down Bourbon Street with my co-worker on the last day, grabbing a beer in one and walking through others. It was fantastic... and since it was the middle of the day, there were only a few drunks wandering around, and only the slightest scent of piss and puke coming off the street.
Also, I saw the Mississippi River. It was gross looking. But kinda pretty at the same time.
All in all, it was a delicious, gorgeous city. I'd like to go back without the business tied to it, and more time to just wander around. Especially since our lack of time to wander around almost made us miss our flight back. We were still on Bourbon street at the time we said we'd be on the way to the airport. We made it to our gate about 3 minutes before they started boarding. It was a memorable way to rush from a city that never seemed to be in a rush itself.
One thing that DID make New Orleans a little uncomfortable and heart breaking for me was the sheer amount of homeless everywhere. I realize this might be, in part, due to Katrina.
On the last day, I had two very different experiences with the homeless of NOLA.
On our way to Cafe Du Mond, a man sitting on a large set of stairs saw us coming and turned over the cardboard sign he had, so we couldn't see what it said. He started speaking to us as we approached, and essentially said "Ladies. Ladies. Look. I've been thinking about something. There's something I've been thinking about doing. And I want you to tell me. Should I do it? Yes? Or no? Yes or no?" I'll be honest, my first thought was that he was asking us to tell us if he should hurt himself, or hurt someone else. We walked away, not saying anything. He began screaming at us, cursing and cat -calling all at once, blasting us for not giving him a simple yes or no. For the next quarter mile we had to tone him out.
On the flip side, we were walking down Bourbon Street and heard the soft tones of what sounded like a home-made xylophone. It was coming from a young man in ragged clothes, sitting on a bucket at the end of the bar section. From the other direction, another set of tourists, enjoying the party scene, made it to the young man before we did. The man in the lead pulled out a half-full bottle of whiskey, leaned in, and held the bottle out over the instrument in the man's lap.
The young man looked up at him, stopped playing and said very clearly, "I don't want that. Thank you, but no." And he smiled and nodded at us as we walked past.
Tonight is my office's Christmas party. And I'm already looking forward to how hilariously (and mind-numbingly) awkward New Kid is going to be.
We're going to the same place we went last year... a little Italian place in downtown SONO (South Norwalk: Where the rich people who are still too poor for SOHO live). It's a nice place, owned by an off-the-boat Italian, staffed by a bunch of Mexicans. Formal attire not required, but a nice shirt wouldn't hurt.
After dinner, we'll probably do exactly what we did last year, and go across the street to a little bar and drink ourselves silly. Its a bit of a dive bar, but the draw is that they focus on delicious craft beers, with over 30 on tap. Of course, we're in the middle of a rich, private college area, so it'll be filled wall-to-wall with trust-fund college boys with popped collars and something to prove. (Tangent: Last year, one of these kids was so drunk that he kept wobbling into ADD/ADHD Co-Worker, then got offended that ADD kept nudging him away. It resulted in him giving ADD a stinkeye that said "I wanna start a fight with you, but you're a big scary black dude, so maybe I'll have my dad hire you as our butler instead.")
So we're discussing the party yesterday, and the conversation with New Kid went something like this:
New Kid: "This place where we're going... what kind of drinks do they have?"
Me: "They've got the good stuff. Some imported beers that are 'eh', but not a bad wine in the place."
New Kid: "Oh, so I can get a sangria? Awesome."
New Kid: "What about afterwards? You said something about a bar...?"
Me: "Yeah, the bar's awesome. Its a total beer bar, lots of great craft beers."
New Kid: "So they'll have some good hard ciders then? Like Woodchuck, or Redds?"
Me: *sigh* "...probably."
So to add to this already hilarious image, New Kid shows up today in a SUIT AND TIE. So lets think about this: at the restaurant, he's going to be offered a glass of $50/bottle wine, and will ask for Sangria instead. At the bar, he'll be in this stuffy suit and tie, sipping his hard cider, surrounded by drunk college boys who will look at him like a chew toy.
The following is a conversation I had to endure upon entering the office this morning.
ADD: Guess what comes out todaaaaay? New Kid: The PS4. ADD: Yup! Good man! Guess what I'm getting in two weeks? New Kid: The Playstation 4! ADD: Yup! The Playstation 4! New Kid (in voice at the end of Playstation commercials): Playstation. ADD: You know... the name... it just makes SO MUCH SENSE. Play... station. Its a station... that you play on. Play... station. SO. GOOD.
A few weeks ago, New Kid broke a rare streak of silence in our office by randomly blurting out, "I'm gonna buy everyone in the office a rubber duck!" Not in the mood for any of his stupid shit, I simply replied, "No, I don't want one." and left it at that. New Kid has made it very apparent that he believes spending money on us will make us his friends.
So, a couple weeks pass without mention of the rubber ducks. The other day, one of our other producers, Mindi, was in our office, working with New Kid on the logistics of a photoshoot. Once again, New Kid informs the room, "I'm gonna buy everyone in the office a rubber duck!"
Me: "I already said No. I don't want a rubber duck." Mindi: "A... rubber duck? I'm confused, why would you buy everyone a rubber duck?" New Kid: "I read that computer programmers keep these rubber ducks on their desks! And when they encounter a problem that they're having trouble with, they talk it out with the rubber duck until its fixed!" Me: Mindi: "But... if you had to talk about this problem outloud, why not just talk to yourself about it?" New Kid: "Talk to yourself? That'd make you look crazy!" Me: