Friday, September 30, 2011

Guest Post at Married Up With Wine

'Mornin!  Well I'm only a few days away from my first business trip.  Last night, Chris and I dropped a good chunk of change at our local Marshalls, buying me some fun travel "necessities", so look out for a post on that soon.

In the meantime, go over to my blogging mentor, Mandy's, blog: Married Up with Wine where I've guest posted today!  I wrote up a li'l sum'n sum'n about living at Mandy and Mike's for the last three weeks.  Seriously, go check it out!

Monday, September 26, 2011


So I've booked my travel and somebody is supposed to book my hotel. Possibly, if she shows up tomorrow for work.  She doesn't normally not show up, but things happen, [insert tentative cough from shy girl I'm ripping a new one]. Something about a cab unless I want to wait over an hour and whatever for so and so to land and rent a car (no thank you to THAT).  And also something about getting to the office super early on Tuesday to "set up".  Possible need of High School Stage Crew experience.  May need to pack a tool kit.

All I know is that I didn't give anyone a credit card number, so whoever is paying for this: it's not me.  So I win there. I think.

My First Business Trip

I feel like the title of this post sounds appropriately juvenile.  Like "My First Dolly".  It's appropriate, because I feel like a kid that got lost at Disney World.  A few seconds ago, everything was fine. I had a big client meeting today where I had to give a presentation, and sure, I was mildly nervous, but I thought that was going to be the most nerve racking part of my day.  Boy was I wrong!

Just found out that I passed my training exam on Friday, and today I get back to my desk after my big, long (5 hours!) client meeting and I have a voicemail saying that I have to travel to North Carolina-to our main headquarters-for a final rundown on how to do my new job.

I'm terrified.  Some woman I've never heard of left me a message telling me that I need to book travel to NC for Tuesday through Thursday of next week --well, actually, Monday through Thursday because I need to be at the office at 9 am on Tuesday morning, so unless I want to show up bleary eyed, I should probably show up Monday nightokaybuhbye.  

That was the whole message.  I have no idea how to book travel through the company. So I call her back and she gives me a number and a travel code, says that, by the way, she wants the three out of towners coming to the office that day to possibly share a car, and then hangs up again.  This is not going well.

Who's orchestrating that one, champ?  Do I have to hunt down my non-NC classmates and make sure we all arrive around the same time so we're not destitute at the airport, waiting for hours on end so we can save the company a little gas money and share a care to whatever motel they stick us in?  Also, I don't have a company credit card yet.  So, most importantly, who's paying for this?!

I'm sure this will all turn out to be a funny memory one day.  One day far in the future when I can book my own travel in my sleep and I have a platinum American Airlines Rewards card so I can reap all the benefits.  But right now, it's a friggin nightmare.

And this phone number she gave me?? Nobody's answering!!!!!!

Have you ever traveled for work?  Tell me what I should be prepared for.  I wanna know your horror stories, because clearly I'm not wigged out ENOUGH.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Guess what?!

Go ahead, guess!

Did you guess yet?

You're probably wrong.

Unless  you guessed that......


That's right!  I passed!  Which means I'm going to get a promotion and a BIG FAT RAISE! Woot woot!!!!

I can barely contain my excitement!!  Except that I'm not even trying because I just announced it to the interweb in bright fuchsia font.

But who cares?!

I passed!  That means I'm outta my department (probably), going to start working from home in a few months, traveling all over the country, and rackin' up those frequent flyer miles, in addition to getting my promotion....and my BIG. FAT. RAISE.

THIS IS AWESOME!  Yay me!!!!!!

To celebrate, Chris is taking me to Chifa tonight, where we'll experience Jose Garces' fine gastronomical skills for $30 a person, because it's restaurant week in Philly! Hurray some more!!!!

Thanks, Iron Chef Jose Garces!!!!  That's really nice of you!!!!

I'm feeling pretty awesome right now, guys.  How are you feeling!?  Seriously! I want to know!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This time it's different

In Part II of the "Our Story" bloggity mini-series, we discuss the transition.

For me, I knew Chris was different the day after we met.  I was teaching my good friend, Phil, how to drive stick shift in a parking lot.  Phil was stalling out the car on speed bumps while I chatted away about this super cute guy I met at orientation yesterday.  I told Phil that I gave the cutie my number, and I distinctly remember Phil saying, "Is that why you won't let go of your phone?  Jess, he won't call you for three days" as per the cool man rule.

Scene shot from When Harry Met Sally

As Harry would say, Phil's words: "He won't call you for three days", were "still hanging in the air, you know, like a balloon attached to a mouth", when the phone rang in my hand.  I jumped to look at it while Phil rolled his eyes at me (and stalled the car again) and I squealed, "It's him!" and then a dramatic pause while I stared at the still ringing phone, "Do I answer?"

Now, I've debated telling you what Phil said to me, but have decided that for the sake of full disclosure, I should just share it.  Phil told me that Chris was a creepy stalker and that any guy who calls that soon is a desperate, crazy person.  Sorry Phil, but you did.

I told Phil to shut up, and I took the call anyway.  The conversation was quick, because I didn't want to talk to Chris with Phil rolling his eyes at me and whispering at me to run from this guy.  Phil is such a winner, isn't he folks? Lol

Where I come from, the three day rule is hard and fast, but I actually found it refreshing that this guy was into me enough to forgo that stupid rule.  It turns out that Chris didn't even know the rule.  He said he'd call, so he did.  He said it so matter of factly...I just knew he was different.  Later that afternoon, after a few minutes on the phone, Chris and I started playing a sort of Truth or...well, Truth game.  We would take turns asking each other questions.  He really wanted to get to know me and find out what made me tick.  I'm not saying that I knew at that second that he was the love of my life, but it did make me realize that this wasn't just some guy I met at a party one time.

Months later, my mother would ask me what happened to being single in college, and I would tell her that I wasn't willing to mess up what I had with Chris for some high school idea of what college was supposed to be.  I didn't need to find myself.  I knew who I was and what I wanted.  What was I even looking for?  Whatever it was, I felt like I'd found it in Chris.

When did you know that your SO wasn't just another guy?  Did he stick by the 3 day rule?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Waiting Game

As I mentioned here, I finished my training course 2 weeks ago, and last week, I completed my final exam.  In order to pass the course, I need to have scored at least an 85%.  My promotion is contingent on me passing this test.

My new position will have me traveling all over the country, about 60% of the time, working in hospitals and research facilities.  I'm really looking forward to the change of pace and a new challenge.  While working here, I've discovered that the 9-5, cubicle-centric, behind-a-desk grind is SO not for me!

My mom did this job when she was younger, and I remember that she traveled all the time.  A lot of times we would go with her.  She racked up miles like nobody's business.  I've seen most of the country for free thanks to her frequent flyer miles-and most of the time I got there in upgraded seats (who's got 2 thumbs and traveled 1st class to Arizona at 12?  THIS GIRL. Lol)

I'm really excited about this opportunity for a ton of reasons.  Here's my top 5:

  1. Less office torture, more sunshine
  2. Traveling the country
  3. An easier job (this new position will actually be the same thing as what I'm doing now-less, actually-but instead of having to communicate directions over the phone to unmotivated personnel, I can just take care of it myself in person)
  4. Meeting new people
  5. Frequent. Flyer. Miles.

I can't wait to start racking up those miles and start taking Chris with me on fun cross-country adventures!  Chris didn't get a chance to travel a lot when he was younger, so I'm really excited to take him to some of my favorite places.  I'm also hoping to rack up enough miles to get us free tickets for our honeymoon so we can splurge a little more on the actual vacay and save on transportation.

I submitted the test on Thursday but still haven't received my score.  I'm freaking out about it. Seriously. How long does it take to get a test score for an exam taken via survey monkey?

I am itching to know how I did!!  If I was close to passing, but didn't, they'll let me take it again.  But if I'm way off the mark, then that's it.  I'm done.

I'm going bananas!  I'm trying to keep myself occupied, but I can't help myself from checking my email every 10 minutes.

Have you ever had to wait for the results of something really important? How'd you handle it?

Monday, September 19, 2011

How it all began

I don't think I've told this story in a long time, but it occurred to me recently that in a blog about our lives as a new family, it would probably be a good idea to mention how we became that family.

What's funny about how Chris and I met is that we had both recently ended our high school relationship so we could go to college and be single and "find ourselves".  Well it turns out that fate had different plans for us, because before college even began, at orientation, we found each other instead.

I made a few friends at orientation who wanted to see the Philadelphia sky line from the top of our dorm, which had an unobstructed, 15 story high view. The view from the top must have been spectacular...I say "must have been" because I never made it to the top floor. I never saw the view but I don't regret it for a second.

Philadelphia from Towers 1104
The view from the 11th was nice too. Source

The elevator doors opened on the 11th floor.  Right off the elevators in the dorm were the common rooms, and the 11th floor common room was packed with people.  My friends decided to continue on to the top, but me, being the social butterfly that I am, immediately got off the elevator, bid them adieu, and never saw them again.

Scene shot from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days - Playing Bullshit. Source
There were people all over the common room, talking, listening to music and playing cards.  I joined in on a game of Bullshit.  A few hours later, I was losing miserably, as I'm a horrible liar, and getting really frustrated with the game-much to the amusement of the other players.  After losing yet another hand, I must have made a comment that warranted a laugh, and over my right shoulder I hear this booming, deep, belly laugh.  Our card table had drawn a crowd of onlookers, and I hadn't noticed that someone had pulled up a chair right behind me.  I turned to see where this contagious laugh was coming from, and there he was.

The way Chris tells it, he was on his way up to his floor to shower when the elevators opened up on the 11th floor.  He knew that this was where he wanted to be, so he cleaned up, checked out a good spot and found it-right next to me.

We immediately clicked.  We started talking and didn't stop until well after sunrise.   We split up for our morning activities, and in our half-awake, romantic haze, we somehow didn't exchange contact information.

I knew that our last chance to run into each other would be at a mandatory safety seminar.  I took a seat and began perusing the room for Chris.  It didn't take long to spot him.  He was sitting directly in front of me, only 4 rows up, completely asleep, and with an empty chair right next to him.  I debated taking that chair for a good 10 minutes.  Would it be really creepy?  Would I wake him up and scare the crap out of him?


I ended up just taking a leap of faith.  When I sat next to him, he woke up, looked at me with this huge smile and said he was so glad I found him.  He asked me where I had been.  He had shown up early and taken a seat in the front so he could watch for me as people entered.

I told him I happened to take a seat a few rows back, and spotted him 10 minutes ago but couldn't decide if it was way too stalkerish to show up sitting next to him.  He gave me a look out of the corner of his eye, like I was nuts.  Of course he wanted me there.  He had saved me a spot, right next to him.  And that's where I've been ever since.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Nomadic Life

I don’t know if I’ve told you (ok, I totally know that I’ve told you a bunch of different times) but in a matter of weeks, my friends Mandy and Mike are moving to Spain (!), and Chris and I will officially be moving into their home to care for it once they’re gone.  I know I recently mentioned that they’ve left on a fabulous tour of Spain for the next few weeks and that Chris and I are currently puppy-sitting for them.  I don't think I have, but I know Mandy has definitely mentioned how many times this move to Spain has been pushed back. 

Me and the pups, taking a nap! (PS, I can't believe I just posted this on the internet. Some of my closest friends haven't seen me in sweats. Ever. EVER)

 I’ve already voiced all the fears and concerns we have/had about moving into our friends’ home, but what I haven’t really touched on is how all these delays have affected us and what we’re doing in the meantime.  I wish I could say that I handled this gracefully, but the stress of it all definitely got to me at some points.  Chris and I have learned a lot from the situation.  First, we learned that we have a lot of family and friends who love us dearly, so we never had any fear of having a place to stay.  Second, and what I’d really like to talk about today, is that we discovered how very little we actually need.  I’ve thought about writing this post for a while, and actually had it half-written, but was recently inspired by my pal Amanda’s really touching post regarding evacuation preparedness for the recent fires near her home in Texas.

We had over 2 months between our lease ending in August and the official Spain move date in October, where we didn’t have our own place to stay.  It meant that all of our stuff had to go into storage and we had to pick and choose what would go with us.  We really had to consider what we absolutely needed to have with us since we’d be temporarily moving into my sister’s condo in the interim.  It was really difficult trying to whittle all our belongings down to just a few bags full of things.  Everything seemed so important.  

A lot of our things were hand me downs, or things we’d had since childhood that really just couldn’t survive another move.  So when the time came, we decided not to hold on to these broken/broke-down things.  We also had a few pieces that we wanted to keep, but were ruined during a sudden downpour while we were loading the truck; and a few more that were destroyed or broken accidentally, mid-move.

Overall, our couch, dining room chairs, media console, dressers, 2 of 4 book shelves, both night stands, both desks and Chris’ desk chair didn’t survive the move.  In terms of furniture, we currently are still in possession of our bed, baker’s rack, coffee table, 2 book shelves, 1 side table and a dining room table.  That’s it.  I was furiously tossing things figuring it could all be replaced, and I was fine with it until I looked at our storage unit.  

Everything we own. 

With everything neatly stacked, we still had plenty of room to walk around in it, and it just struck me how little we had left.  I suddenly had a pang of regret for letting go of all those things.  How would we ever replace them!?  What was I thinking!?

On one of the first nights at my sister’s condo, I cried. Like a crazy person.  I was inconsolable.  I felt like we had nothing.  I remember sobbing “We used to have our own place-a house full of things-and now everything we own fits in this tiny room!”  I felt like we had taken 2 steps backward at a time in our relationship where I wanted so badly to be moving forward.

Oddly, Chris just let me cry.  He’s normally the consoling type, but he didn’t have a word to say that night.  Finally, I asked why he was being so quiet, and he just looked so lost; as if I was speaking a different language.  “I’m just so confused,” he said, “I think this is amazing.  I don’t understand how you can be upset about this.”


Clearly, the utter shock on my face was a trigger for him to continue.  He told me that he’d never been so sure of our relationship and so sure that he and I could make it through anything.  Chris had always told me that he wouldn’t mind living in a box on the side of the road as long as we were together, and here we were, not nearly that destitute but technically homeless, and up until then he had thought that we’d handled it like champs.  Like we had really proven that all we needed was each other.  How was I not on the same page?
Yeah, I felt like a total a-hole.  It was, for sure, one of those moments where the phrase “my better half” makes a ton more sense.  I immediately stopped crying.  Suddenly our situation took on a whole new meaning for me. I kissed him and quickly fell into a deep sleep. Chris is amazing like that.

So that was our first move.  The next move happened last Friday where we packed up our things to dog-sit at Mandy and Mike’s for 3 weeks.  It went decidedly easier.  With my new outlook, I packed a few small bags and headed out. 

We’ll be making two more moves in the upcoming weeks: We'll vacate Mike and Mandy’s so they can pack for their trip without our stuff being in their way, and then our FINAL (for a year anyway) move back into the house once they’ve left for Spain.  Each time we pack up and move, it gets easier to leave things behind.  They’re just things after all.  We’ve narrowed all of our possessions down to a bag or two of things that we absolutely wouldn’t want to live without.  Everything else is expendable.  For us, our must-have items make up a short list:

  • A ton of my jewelry, most of which was gifted to me by family and/or Chris
  • The green blanket Chris’ family brought from Chile that we've been sleeping with since forever
  • Our external hard drive, with all of our pictures carefully stored on it
Of course, we also packed some clothes, toiletries, and gadgets to maintain us over the weeks, but I’m sure we would get over it if they were lost.  As for the things in storage….if the whole thing went up in flames, I think the only things I’d be upset about losing are:

  • My paintings
  • My great grandmother’s kitchen table

Oh man this post has gotten long!!! To sum it all up: For Chris, I’d give up everything; and I’d rather live in a box on the side of the road than ever live without him.  As long as we’re together, I don’t need anything else.  Except maybe a pair of earrings and some chapstick.  Other than that, though, I think I’m good.  ;)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Total Remorse

You'd think that being stuck in traffic for over 4 hours and never actually getting to your destination would be reason enough for any two people stuck in a car together to get on each other's nerves.  Interestingly enough, that didn't phase us.  What sparked our mid-afternoon blow out today was a dirty pasta pot.  Yes. A pot.

You see, Chris and I couldn't get to work today due to the ridiculous flooding in the Philadelphia area.  Not a big deal for me since I had my laptop and could work from home, but Chris would have to take the day off.  
Personal Photo, taken on one of my many attempts to get to work.  That thing floating around in the middle of the road is a car.  And that body of water over to the right is not a lake, it's usually a golf course.

When we returned home after hours of driving around and around, there it was in the sink, the dirty pasta pot.  The pot that had been there since Tuesday when Chris had whipped us up some pasta as a quick/easy meal while I completed my 9th, 3 hour training class for work (I'm training for a big promotion and this was the 9th of 10 classes. Today's the last class, yay!) and I quickly ignored it.  

Instead, I started setting up my laptop and prioritizing all the things I was supposed to do at work today  since we didn't make it back home until after noon.  Plus, I had promised to help my sister with one of her outrageous cakes, so I had to bake two cakes today (yeah, me. bake). I also still need to pack all our stuff for the next three weeks since we'll be house/puppy sitting at our friends, Mandy & Mike's, house starting tomorrow right after work. AND, I still hadn't done my homework for class tonight. My last training class before the final.  So yeah, I had a lot going on.  

We sat down to eat lunch.  I'm mindlessly eating some chicken and working away on my computer when Chris looks over at the sink and says, "So are you going to clean the pasta pot?"

Let me preface by saying, I know I overreacted.  I do appreciate that he made dinner on Tuesday so I could focus on class, and I do understand that house rules clearly state "I cook. You clean."  And I also willingly admit that I don't often do the cleaning when it's my turn, so this wasn't the first time I hadn't held up my part of the bargain-so the comment may have been warranted.  I just had so much on my mind.  Ok, enough stalling.  Here's something along the lines of what I said:

Um, EXCUSE ME?  I have to WORK from home, bake TWO different cakes, PACK for our temporary move, do some SERIOUS homework for class tonight, TAKE the class, MAKE DINNER, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND clean the EFFING PASTA POT?!?!  I'm sorry, and you're doing WHAT, exactly, while I'm doing all of this!?  Nothing?!  Is there anything else you'd like me to do for you, your majesty?!


Well, uh, as you can see, I blew a major gasket.  I can only wish I looked like the girl in the pic.  I imagine I looked more like a crazy cartoon character, you know, with eyes bulging and face reddening and smoke coming out of my ears and all.  

I was immature, belittling, and way over dramatic. But I was also right in this particular case.  I've had a lot on my plate recently, and many of our more recent, although extremely rare, arguments have been about Chris needing to help me more, so this was the straw that paralyzed the proverbial camel. 

It didn't take long for Chris to realize that it wasn't right for him to tack more on to my to-do list when his slate was so free and clear, but it took a lot longer for him to admit it because of the way that I behaved.  In the meantime, I called him a few choice words, threw some things around, and wondered why he wasn't apologizing. Lol. Listen, hindsight is 20/20; crazy vision is more akin to Mr Magoo.


In the end, we kissed and made up. He apologized first, since I'm stubborn and pig headed.  I did clean the pot (as it was part of my angry, b*tch-tastic dramatization), but Chris spent the day writing emails for me while I dictated so I could multi-task, helping me bake the cakes, running to the store for me when we ran out of ingredients, and taking care of dinner in the form of a pizza delivery.  In fact, he didn't stop working until I did..

I didn't get to do everything I had wanted to accomplish today, but I got a lot more of it done than I would have without Chris.  As is typical for us, we spent the rest of the day apologizing to each other and going over and over how idiotic we behaved and how we should have thought this or that through.  

Luckily for us, our fights are few and far between, and they always end with a calm discussion-even if they don't always start that way.  One of our strongest traits is our ability to communicate, but I think that our mutual feelings of total remorse for ever doing or saying anything that would hurt the other is probably a close second.  

How do you and your SO work out the bumps in the road?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Free to be Fearless

Chris has a nose for really awful TV.  Not awesomely bad, like my favorite TV show of all time, Degrassi: The Next Generation, but just really really bad television programming.  Like he willingly watches, for pleasure, those Nova shows that they used to force me to watch for science class in high school.  You know, the ones that all sound like they're being narrated by Ben Stein.  Bueller? Bueller?

So when he decided he wanted to start watching Castle, I thought, "Here we go again," and readied myself for an hour of eye rolling and impatiently sighing.  Well, I was right about the first episode.  It was painful.  But the second wasn't that bad, and before you know it, I'm highly anticipating the start of the third season.  It has such clever writing, and the characters are all so wonderfully flawed.

In one episode, Castle, the bumbling male lead tries to have a conversation with his daughter, Alexis, about her new boyfriend--and ends up turning to his partner, Kate, for help answering Alexis' question about love.

How do you know when you're in love?  All the songs make sense.

As soon as Kate dead-pans that line, Chris looked at me and smiled. He wordlessly took my hand and kissed it. And I just thought...all the songs make sense.

When I decided to branch out of the food blogosphere and start a more general, personal blog about us, our lives, our upcoming wedding, and our relationship-I knew I wanted the title to reflect a line from our song-a song that didn't make any sense to me until I met Chris. The song is "Vivir Lo Nuestro" by Marc Anthony and La India. The title translates to "Live out what we have" or "Live what's ours", and the line my blogging mentor, Mandy, helped me settle on was "Volar, volar sin miedo, como palomas libres, tan libres como el viento" which translates to "Fly, fly fearlessly, like free doves, as free as the wind." Thus, you have "Fearlessly Free."

It's a strange feeling to love and trust someone so openly. It really makes you feel free, like you can do or be anything and you know that person would never think less of you, and you'd never have to go through anything alone. It makes you brave.

I hope that's what I can be on this blog. I want to break out of my shell and try things that make me uncomfortable or scared-like planning my own wedding, DIY projects, making a souffle....

Wish me luck!