Saturday, December 31, 2005

Iron Chef Marathon!

Starting at 2 p.m. New Years Day on the Food Network, you can watch 6 hours of Iron Chef America! I don't about you, but I'm pretty excited. It's like my equivalent to holiday football, I guess.
Just Shoot Me!

Well, Friday I learned how to give myself my own allergy shot. It was quite an experience. I'm at the end of my 3-year treatment, and now on a maintenance dose, so it's pretty safe to do it myself since it's always the same amount. The caveat is I have to have my epi-pen ready, and do it while someone is there in case I keel over and die. I just can't make it to the allergist once a week anymore with my new job, taking it at my primary care isn't working out too well, and I'm tired of paying my copayment every week for something I could do myself. Needless to say, giving my first shot was a little weird. It didn't hurt too bad, but I guess my technique is bad, cause the shot site swelled up really huge and red and hot. I was really freaking out for a while, but around dinnertime last night it seemed to start getting better, and it's definitely better today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Working in DC

It's always so interesting working in the district, and those of us who do take things for granted that most people travel here on their precious vacations to see. My last job was right near the White House, and I often walked down there during lunch to see all the crazy people in the little park behind it. This new job is a stone's throw from the Capitol, which is actually really beautiful and a very impressive structure. I'm also in walking distance from the new American Indian museum. Pretty neat. I actually took a walk during lunch today cause the weather was so nice.

So I bet you're wondering how I like my new job? It's definitely less stressful--but it's the holidays so it's hard to tell what it will really be like. The commute is certainly shorter. The people are a heck of a lot nicer. So from what I can tell, things are looking good. The early hours really suck, but also mean I'm home earlier in the evening and have more time to do what I want to do, if I can stay awake that is. Dare I have my hopes up??

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I Hate Comcast

I just spent about 30 minutes on the phone with Comcast--most of the time on hold--to ask about extending my high speed internet for a good price. No dice. The first guy was so rude, he actually told me, "if we keep you at that rate we'd make no money off you." The second guy, the "supervisor" was no better and sounded like the biggest dork in the world. They made it sound like they've been doing me a favor all this time, losing all this money over me. Yeah, right. Anyway, as of February, I'm going to be a Verizon DSL customer. Or maybe I'll just do it sooner just cause I'm so very furious. What a bunch of assholes. I told the guy that their customer service sucks and hung up on him.
Doggone Guilt

I often suffer from guilt from leaving my dogs home alone too long without me. This new DVD Dog-On Television provides a handy companion for those of us who are perpetually guilt-stricken. Apparently it's all the rage and has even been endorsed by Oprah!

Thanks to Jeffro for the tip.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Christmas started Friday night when Jeffro and I exchanged gifts. He gave me some funny stuff: a Martina McBride Barbie doll (see my profile pic) and an Iron Chef book. My big gift was a Canon digital camera! So I enter further into the digital world. Maybe you'll be seeing some actual photos on this blog soon as opposed to google images! Look out, world!

I got Jeffro this cool chair that he wanted for his living room, an Atari video game console, and a book that I thought he'd like. From Jeffro's mom I got 2 great new CDs--Big & Rich and Reba, Napoleon Dynamite, and some great chocolate goodies, including homemade cookies. My neighbor got me these great sterling silver earrings from Tiffany's and 2 small cups to add to my china closet collection.

Jeffro's mom came down from NJ yesterday and we had a nice Christmas Eve. We went to lunch at the Lost Dog Cafe, which not only serves great food but also helps to rescue dogs and cats. Then we went into Old Town Alexandria to walk around a little--the weather was just wonderful! We went to our traditional Italian "7 fish" Christmas dinner at my mom's house. Today is dinner and gifts at my sister's house. She has 6 kids and it should be quite a festive day! Hope everyone out there has a safe and wonderful holiday.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

You Could Get Hit by a Bus Tomorrow

Apparently this morning a woman was hit by a bus right outside our office. It was pretty crazy, they closed a bunch of streets, my boss couldn't get near enough the office to park. What a terrible thing--apparently she was not only hit, but dragged and run over. Really awful story. I wonder if it will make the news tonight. Since it happened right after I got in this morning, it kind of made me think that you know, things could be a lot worse. Her poor family right before the holidays.

On a brighter note, tomorrow is only 1/2 day. I'm working until noon, then have to do a little last Christmas shopping, including exchanging a gift for my niece already and buying more paper to finish wrapping. My sister comes in from FL tomorrow night, and Jeffro's mom is coming from Jersey on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hump Day

Well, I'm midway through my first week, so I guess I'll survive after all. I must say, though, that these early mornings are nearly killing me. I was just not cut out to do the 8:30 to 5 thing. I have to get up an hour earlier than normal. That means I get home an hour earlier too, but I've been so tired that my early evenings really haven't been as fun or productive as I'd hoped . . . and there's a Gold's Gym actually in my building, but I haven't been motivated to actually bring workout clothes and take advantage of my membership yet. Maybe next week. Or maybe not. The DC powerball is apparently 2 million, so if I played, maybe I could really never work again.

Today I actually got to do a little bit of actual work like writing and web updating. Woo hoo! I also got all the office supplies I ordered, so that is good news. I like the people I work with for the most part, except for the glimpse of micromanager I saw in my boss today. I wrote this stuff for the web, and she brought it back and said it was great except to do it all over the way she thinks it should be done. Sigh.

Our office setup is really weird. We're under the umbrella of a larger organization, and we sit in an office with a bunch of other people who are technically not in our little organization. The weird thing is that nobody talks to each other, even if they walk by you 10 times a day. There seems to be an unspoken rule that never the two shall meet. Very strange.

I have eaten way too much crap this week. With the holidays almost here, the office has received millions of gift baskets filled with all kinds of stuff. My biggest weakness these days seems to be all the chocolate. My predecessor left the company to start her own business making chocolate and consequently our Christmas gift from the president was a nice little personal box of these decadent goodies.

And lastly, there is a Starbucks opening soon in my building, which is just a little too close for comfort.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Day Number Two

Well, I finished the exciting Christmas card project--I had to seal the cards and was too lazy to find a better way to do it, so I licked them and cut my tongue! That was fun. The other excitement of the day consisted of cleaning out 4 years of files. Why my predecessor couldn't have done this, I don't know. That was fun too. So as you can see, I'm getting all the high level projects . . .

Seriously, though, it was helpful to go through old files. I did get to proofread something for my boss, and she complimented me on my proofreading skills, so that was good. She wants me to critique our website, which I started to do. They are definitely easing me into everything.

The rest of the week should be quiet since the big boss won't be in. And we are closing at noon on Friday, which is awesome. I will be having individual meetings with everyone to get to know what they do, so that is good. People are so darned nice and calm here, it is very refreshing. But just give it a month and I'll say it's too calm and boring! ;)

Monday, December 19, 2005

First Day on the Job

Well, I survived my first full day at my new job. And while I am glad to have gotten out of my old job, I must say that the reality is, I just don't want to be working. Period. While it's all new and exciting, I still have to endure a rather bad commute and drag my ass someplace I don't want to be at a time in the morning when I really don't even want to be awake. And although I have some nice perks already lined up (see below) and hopefully will be working with people who aren't insane, it's still just a job like any other.

My first day started with absolutely everyone getting in late. I basically sat in my office entertaining myself for a while before anyone ever showed up to tell me where the refrigerator, bathroom, etc. were. I had a quick meeting with my boss first thing, in which I learned that I'm going to Las Vegas in about 3 weeks. I've never been and I'm so thrilled! Apparently we're staying at the Venetian, in suites that are 700 square feet with living rooms and sunken bathtubs. Can I just move there? Then apparently I'm taking a Steven Covey workshop in February, and going to CT in March to give a presentation on the status of the organization. Uh . . . hopefully by then I'll have some clue about that.

On the one hand, my boss knows how to treat her employees. We went to lunch at Bistro Bis at the Hotel George downtown. I had a wonderful appetizer of manchego cheese, and seared scallops as the entree. I must say they were the best scallops I'd ever had. We of course also had to have dessert. So that killed a good 2-1/2 hours. However, on the other hand, for some odd reason she gave me an interesting first "project"--addressing her company Christmas cards. I'm really not sure why, as we have an admin assistant . . . maybe this was some kind of weird test of my willingness to do crappy assignments?

This week looks like it will be pretty slow, and I'll get to do some reading and acclimating to my new surroundings. Next week the boss is taking off 2 days, which will be nice. The bad thing about this job is that big brother is watching big time from what I understand, and I don't think I will be able to do any blogging or checking personal email while at work. So I'll have to try to check out whether that's true from other staff members as I get to know them.
Weekend Update

What a crazy weekend. I'm exhausted and wish I had a weekend to recover. It took most of Saturday and Sunday to finish my Christmas shopping, and I'm not even sure I'm happy with some of my choices. Sigh. When you have 6 nieces and nephews, shopping can be a little challenging.

Saturday night Jeffro and I went to my friend's annual Beethoven's birthday party. It's their excuse to throw a Christmas party (they're a little eccentric, but very nice). They always have an interesting theme and crazy food. This year it was Middle Eastern theme, as my friend had taken a cooking course and wanted to share her new skills. Each year it astounds me how people actually cook complicated dishes to bring to the party. Must be nice to have that kind of time. Me, I just bought some store-bought couscous and hummus and called it a party. I got to see some old friends, and make some new and very interesting ones.

Sunday night we went to see Les Mis at the National Theatre. I'd never seen it and had heard mixed reviews from friends. I was pleasantly surprised, and liked it more than I thought I would. Almost all the singers had very strong voices, and the harmonies were wonderful.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Is It Winter?

I have been astounded this week by the number of people I have seen wearing shorts, short skirts with no hose/tights, and open-toe shoes. Has it not been the coldest week of the year? Do we not still have remnants of the last snow on the ground? Last night walking around the national tree, my feet got so cold in WOOL SOCKS that they were hurting and numb, yet I saw at least 2 people inappropriately dressed in their summer garb, no coat, etc. Maybe it's just me, but I'd prefer to avoid frostbite.
Annual Christmas Tree Trek

Last night a group of friends and I made our annual trek to see the national Christmas tree on the mall. What was probably more entertaining than seeing the tree itself was the rat that ran across my friend's foot and the crazy man who was arrested right in front of us. It was definitely a night to remember. Afterwards we made our annual trek to Old Ebbitt Grill to wait an hour and a half to get a table. Actually, this year was much better because we went there first to put our name in and then only had to wait 1/2 hour by the time we finished with the tree.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

José Pariente

Since Jeffro mentioned turning this into a wine blog, I thought I'd tell you about my favorite white wine, Jose Pariente. You can read more about it here. I buy mine at The Curious Grape in Shirlington.
Visiting An Old Friend

I spent the better part of the day visiting a former co-worker who married, had kids, and moved to the suburbs and I never see her. We had some time to ourselves and then spent the rest of the afternoon entertaining her almost 2-year old. Boy am I tired! I thought this was supposed to be a restful week, but my dogs never let me sleep in.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

CC's Famous Lentil Soup

Since some of you have asked, I guess I will put my secret lentil soup recipe online, although it somewhat pains me. I made a nice batch of it last night. It's great in this cold weather, very hardy. Serve it with some crusty Italian bread and red wine, and you've got a great meal.

olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
1 or 2 sticks of celery
potatoes (optional, small cubes)
carrots (optional, finely diced)
1 can chicken broth (or part of a bouillion cube)
1 bag of lentils (prepare per bag directions, some you need to soak)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (if you like spicy)
pepperoni or turkey pepperoni (about 15-20 thin slices, cut into quarters)
7-8 cups of water

Saute the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots (if you include those) in olive oil for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook at a slow simmer for at least an hour until everything is tender. The key is to keep going back and tasting and add the salt/pepper/red pepper as you like it. The other key is to keep adding water if it starts looking dry. Soup should be thick but not lumpy.
Lady of Leisure

Boy am I loving being home. So far today I watched schlocky morning television, finished my Christmas cards (just need to buy stamps), and done some web surfing that I hadn't gotten to yet. The rest of the plan for the day includes calling a friend I haven't talked to in a while, and some Christmas shopping this afternoon. I could get used to not working. If only I could afford it . . .

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

First Day of Freedom

Well, yesterday was my last day of work. It's pretty hard to believe and it somehow doesn't feel real yet. I think it's going to take the better part of this week to really de-stress. Today was just great. I got up on the early side to get my allergy shot, did some Christmas shopping, got some cleaning done, made lentil soup, and watched General Hospital. I also talked to people on the phone without having to rush to end the call. Very nice indeed. My goals for this week:

1. De-stress!
2. Finish 90% of Christmas shopping
3. Finish Christmas cards
4. Get some work done around the house
5. Errands
6. Have stress-free lunches with some friends

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oh What a Night!

Last night's gala was quite the event. It even got covered by AP. Why? Who was the famous Former President? Clinton . . . after spending the day in Montreal bashing Bush, he came to our gala to accept an award. And he took photos with some of our other awardees and I got to shake his hand! Pretty exciting, huh? I also got to meet the president of the NAACP and his wife.

The other highlight of the evening was that our other big awardee--a teacher--is stationed in Iraq and we managed to get a live satellite feed for him to give an acceptance speech. All in all, a very cool night!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Where Have I Been?

Oh. My. God. This has been really the most insane week of my life. I didn't get home tonight till almost 8. We have our big gala tomorrow night for work and we've been doing all this extra stuff--placing ads, PR, media tours, etc. that has take a hell of a lot of time and energy. I still have to make a few calls from home tonight to confirm everything. Plus it might snow tomorrow and who the hell knows if everyone will be able to even get there? I'm just exhausted and so sick of all of it. I will be so happy tomorrow night when this is all over. Except it won't be over, cause I'll have to send some press releases afterwards at like 11 p.m.

All the hullabaloo is over our big awardee. In the past, we've honored people like Mister Rogers and LeVar Burton but this year is really big. Like former President-big. Like having to deal with his office to get every little mention of him approved-big. Like having to do a run through with secret service this week-big. Like having to give my name, dob, and social security number for a background check-big. It has been very interesting to say the least. I would not want to be on the staff of someone like that. It is completely exhausting. The cool thing is there is a 50-50 chance I will get to meet him. I oversee the photography at the event and we've got a photo opp lined up, and either myself or my cohort I've been working PR with will do it. We both say we don't care who does it, but I must be honest and say I think it should be me.

Anyway, that's my news. As of tomorrow, it will all be over. But I think I will need to go in this weekend to straighten my wreck of an office. I never got to meet with the person who is sort of taking over my position, and I don't know if it will happen. I have to go in Monday, but only for our office party. I feel like I just haven't had enough time to do everything and leave things in a good way. So that really sucks. But I've worked my ass off this week, and I guess that is the best that I can do. But I'm not happy about it.
Squirrel Skeleton

There is a full squirrel skeleton, carefully preserved, on the sidewalk near my house. It is pretty crazy. I wish I had a digital camera to take a picture. So I had to settle for this Google image instead.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lost It

I have officially lost it today. Things are really stressful because of the gala, people are driving me absolutely crazy. But you know what, in less than a week this will all be over and I don't have to come back here again to this crazy place. I just said to someone, who was asking me to revise something for the millionth time, "this is why I'm leaving." I'm just so furious right now it will be a miracle if I make it through this week.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

DA Bomb!

According to my neighbor, apparently my lentil soup is the bomb. My other neighbor stopped by to visit too and told me the whole building smells wonderful cause of my soup. I must say, it is pretty damned good this time around.
Day of Rest?

Not for me. Today has been really busy, actually the whole weekend has been busy. Here's the rundown:

Friday night - Jeffro made me a wonderful dinner. We later went grocery shopping to get it out of the way.

Saturday - Went to the Old Dominion Boat Club's annual oyster roast. All you can eat--raw, steamed, fried, and chowder--for just $20. Although my stomach was sort of mad at me later. Later we went to Target, which was a huge mistake. It was so friggin crowded we couldn't take it and made it a quick trip.

Sunday - I have been so productive today. Let's see, I gave the dogs a bath--no easy feat, vacuumed--again no easy feat in a house with 2 dogs, bought a b-day gift for my neighbor, cooked soup and 2 other meals for the week, and sent off Christmas lists to my family. Now my neighbor is headed down for dinner and hopefully some wine.

I have some work I need to do tonight, if I'm sober enough. This is my last week at work, and I'm feeling the crunch of trying to get everything organized and finished. Yes, I'm a lame duck but I still feel a responsibility to leave things in good shape. Or maybe I'm just lame . . .

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Dr. Noah Drake Is Back!

Rick Springfield resumes his ever-popular 80s role as Dr. Noah Drake on ABC's General Hospital from now through December 7. How exciting is that? Check it out at 3 p.m.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Chocolate Coma

I was totally craving chocolate today and much to my surprise a chocolate cake appeared that was untouched from an earlier meeting. It made me so happy, but now I'm very sleepy. Things are majorly stressful this week, as our event is next Friday and people are getting testy (not that it's much different than usual). I'm trying to stay out of it, but not successfully. Plus in the middle of it all I'm going through 4 years worth of crap. Boy do I love throwing things away.