Monday, October 24, 2011

Start Spreading the News, Part II

Telling coworkers you're engaged:

I work in an office made up predominantly of women.  Lots of catty, gossipy women.  So as much as I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I was engaged the moment I walked into the office, I held back. I just didn't know how to go about telling these people that I was engaged without inadvertently sparking rumors of how I'm gloating and rubbing it in people's faces. I mean, can someone please update me on Ms Manners' version of how to do this?  Do you send out a mass email?

Do you hang a second plaque under your name on the outside of your cube?

Seriously, what is the etiquette here?

Secondly, one of my coworkers was recently engaged until her fiance called the whole thing off and left her less than a month before her wedding.  Me and this particular coworker have not always gotten along, but I still felt bad for her, and I felt like coming in and being all "What's up! I'm ENGAGED, BITCHES!" would be hard for her.  I thought that she needed the time to heal more than I needed praise and attention.

So I decided to not say anything and let people notice the ring on their own.  I thought that would be the easiest way, and it couldn't be construed as tacky because I'd simply be reactive instead of proactive towards the situation. Problem solved, right?

Fast forward more than a week later and NOBODY HAD NOTICED.

I can't really blame anyone other than my team leads and my across the hall (ATH) cube neighbor, because I really don't see many other people besides them on a regular basis.  I talk to a girl on the other side of one of my cube wall all day and it occurs to me that some days, like today, I don't even know what she's wearing.  We shout at each other over the wall, but we don't really go hanging out in each other's cubes.  So unless we run into each other in the bathroom or the break room, it's very possible not to see each other.

Eight days later, I started getting frustrated.  I decided it was well past the decent amount of time for people to casually notice, and I realized that my Social Butterfly of an ATH cube neighbor was my best bet at getting this story going.  So I started playing with my hair, or putting my left hand near my mouth while I was talking to her, hoping she would notice.

Completely. Effing. Oblivious.

Two more days pass and I've almost given up when my ATH cube neighbor's BFF shows up.  I've got my back to her when she notices my ring as I'm typing and says, "OHMYGODJESSICA. ARE YOU ENGAGED?"

I say "Yeah" as my ATH cube neighbor says "No". Lol, she's such a tool sometimes.

Of course, the first question they ask is "When did it happen!?" And when I tell them they're all aghast that I waited so long to say anything, to which I replied, "Yeah, well, you know."  Like, what the hell kind of answer is that?

The news caught like wildfire, and within a matter of an hour and a half, almost everyone in the department had stopped by to check out the ring and say congrats and give me some completely ridiculous advice.

I seriously could have used some guidance on the social conventions associated to this kind of thing.  Telling my friends was so much easier:

Text to all my pals: "Dear all: He put a ring on it!  First to call gets details, all others please take a number."

Soooo much easier!

How did you tell your coworkers you were engaged? Am I missing something?  I mean, my time has already passed, because I don't plan on getting engaged a second time, but there's gotta be people out there who are currently Googling "What is the socially acceptable way to inform your coworkers that you're engaged?" and are stumbling their way here.  Help me, help them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Start Spreading the News, Part I

Informing the VIPs:

In the world we live in today, news spreads fast.  Faster than fast.  It spreads at the push of a button.  You can change your Facebook status to married, and within nano-seconds, FB has already put together an album of every photo of you and your fiance that was ever posted on the internet, complete with a collage cover page and giant banner saying "Guess who's engaged!! *Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge*" or something like that.  Except, it's not so much winking and nudging. It's more like a broad, billboard type advertisement on the side of the road with neon lights blinking, and arrows pointing at it.  And it's sent to pretty much everyone you know in less than a second.

Like my new haircut that went FB viral in like, 30 seconds.

Chris and I decided, long before we were engaged, that finding out that your closest friends/family are getting married via the internet is kinda sucky.  We can both understand the efficiency of it (especially after the fact), but it's just not the way we wanted to start our engagement.  We both have highly emotional, passionate Hispanic families-all of whom would be seriously pissed that they weren't personally called and informed.  We didn't announce that we were engaged on Facebook or blog until a full six days later.  Why?  Because that's how long it took us to track everyone down.  Seriously.

I felt like I needed a call center.  "Good afternoon, We're contacting you to inform you that your [insert relationship to the couple here], Jess and Chris, are engaged.  For more information, press 1....."

We went through our phones and called everyone we thought should know, personally.  It took FOREVS. And by the second day, we both had a really quick, well rehearsed spiel to sum up the whens, wheres, and hows to almost everyone's satisfaction.  At times we felt like we were rushing people off the phone, but there were just so many people to call!  I was even tempted to give my spiel in yesterday's post instead of writing out the details, but then I remembered that this is the place where I'm supposed to be writing all this down-for posterity of course.  Plus, I know you guys all want to know the deets. ;)

After six days of calling, we managed to contact 99.9% of the people we wanted to track down and then called it quits.  We updated the internet on our goings on, and we received a flood of responses from our friends.  It was really so sweet.  It reminded us how lucky we are.  Some responses were expected, like we knew that our old roomie, Audrey (love ya!), would be excited for us, but we also got messages from people who didn't even know us as a couple, who were just genuinely happy to know that we were happy.  Some even offered to help with  the wedding planning and offer advice and suggestions (thanks Mindy!!!).

It was so generous, and way more than we expected.  So the age of the internet has its drawbacks and benefits.  Overall, I think we chose the right route.

How do you update your family with big news?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The one where he proposes

I wrote this post when I was in North Carolina and watching a Friends marathon in my hotel room, so I hope you'll indulge in my Friends inspired post title.

The first question everyone asks you when you tell them you're engaged is "Did you set a date?", followed closely by "How did he do it?"

This is a much more fun topic for me.  Let's tell that story....

Chris and I can't stand letting a beautiful day go to waste.  We love being outside when the weather permits.  And because I drive one of these little cuties.....

I know. It's so me.

we do a lot of driving with the top down, just to be outside.  We'll get in the car and just get lost for a few hours.  We explore and talk and generally enjoy each other's company.  On our drives, we often fall upon these gorgeous neighborhoods with beautiful houses.  There's one Spanish style house, tucked away near Chestnut Hill College, that is our absolute favorite.  A lot of our drives usually include a pass by this one home. We sometimes park in front of it and discuss how we'll be so rich one day that we'll be able to knock on these people's door and tell them they need to move, because we're buying their house.  And we'd wile away the time, talking about our future family and where we want to be and what we want to do.  It's our dream house on so many levels.  Not only is it a gorgeous house, but it's also the place we go to openly discuss our future.  No holds barred.

Not our dream house, but close.

As you may or may not know, Chris and I had to postpone our plans to celebrate our 7th anniversary because we were moving.  We're not usually big anniversary people, but we were going through a pretty rough life-patch at the time, and we really needed a reason to celebrate.  I'm the kind of person who always needs to be moving forward, so when we took a half step backwards by having to move in with my sister, I was pretty devastated.  It didn't matter to me that this super temporary half step back was to facilitate 5 giant steps forward in the coming weeks.  I was beyond consoling most of the time.

One month later, we finally set a date to celebrate: August 27th. Sound familiar? Yeah, because that's when hurricane Irene hit.  By the Thursday the 25th, it was pretty clear that our Saturday celebration was going to be a wash out, literally.  Again, I went into spiraling bee-atch mode.  Would nothing go right ever!?

Chris decided that instead of postponing it yet again, that we could move it forward a day and celebrate on a cloudy, pre-storm Friday.  Whatever.  At that point, anything was better than nothing, even if some of our anniversary plans would have to include going to Target for bottled water and batteries, fortifying our storage unit for flood waters, and stopping by Pet Smart to get dog food for the Zeus-inator.

I picked Chris up from the train station on Friday after work, with plans of doing errands first and then finish the night with a nice dinner.  He took the wheel and said that he googled some pet shops that carry Zeus' brand of food and found one nearby.

He took a few turns and we ended up driving down "Dream House Lane".  I think I said something like, "I don't remember a pet store being anywhere near here," when he stopped the car in front of the house.  Again, I didn't think anything of it.  We stop there every time we pass it, almost religiously.

He turned to me, and nervously began speaking.  He started talking about our relationship and how far we had come and how proud he was to be with me and was so grateful to have me in his life.  He said that he was grateful to have me helping him to pursue his dreams and felt confident that my dreams would always include him, and his would always include me.

At this point in the speech I was super confused.  I didn't really know what was happening, but I could tell that the speech had been well thought out and that parts of it had possibly even been (sorry, honey) rehearsed.  That's when I started putting two and two together, and things started getting really fuzzy because all I could think was "Oh my god! OH. MY. GOD. And now I'm crying. Terrif."

Finally, he pulled the ring out of his pocket and said that we still had a lot of plans and dreams ahead of us left to fulfill- and that he'd made me a lot of promises to go with them, and he promised to hold up his end of the bargain if I would hold up mine.

And he opened the box to reveal my ring:

My little Buddha statue is the perfect ring stand for at-work picture taking.

Which is gorgeous, if I do say so myself.  And I do.

I cried. I said yes. I cried some more.  We kissed. And then we headed to Pet Smart.  Which was nowhere nearby.

Chris didn't let me call anyone for hours.  He said he wanted for the two of us to enjoy being engaged, all alone, at least for the first few minutes.  So he agreed to let me start making calls once we were back home, errands done, car unpacked, and house: hurricane ready.  That was HOURS later.  It took us way longer to do our errands than we thought, so we were going to do a late dinner at PF Chang's and call it a night, which is what I told my mom (after telling her I was engaged, of course!) when I called her.  It turned out that she, my dad, and my brother, were on their way to PF Chang's when I called.  So we met them there for a celebratory meal.

Running errands, preparing the house for a hurricane, and then having a meal with your parents may not sound like the perfect anniversary/engagement, but it's mine and I love love love love it.  I love my story and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So what do you think?  Did Chris do a good job?  I thought he did!  Did your proposal have a few curve-balls thrown in it?  How about a hurricane? Lol!

Monday, October 10, 2011

What did I learn?

Finally! A recap!  I feel like I'm writing one of those first-day-of-school reports I used to do in elementary school where your teacher (who was also still coming off his/her summer doze and not really interested in doing something actually educationally significant yet) took a nap while the class wrote a 1 page summary of what they learned during their summer vacation.

My trip to NC was kind of like a summer vacation.  I got to take a mid-week break from my daily grind and get away from the office for a bit.

First, I honestly considered moving to North Carolina every single day I was there.  Everyone in the office was SO NICE.  And the office itself was jaw dropping.

Not our NC office building, but this one is equally nice/awesome

The program grads who work at the Raleigh office asked me if the Philly office was as nice as theirs, and I nearly peed my pants laughing.  Our office looks like a brown, two story Pizza Hut circa 1972.  If they saw this office, they'd die.  It's a well known fact that our office here in Philly is sub-par.  I have a severe phobia of going into the stairwells in our building because they used to house massive wasps.  They finally got an exterminator to REALLY clean the building out, and the guy reported that every single one of our air vents had a different kind of insect nest in it.  We had stink bugs, wasps, bees, hornets, yellow-jackets... You name it, we had it.

Not the Philly office, but close.

The inside isn't any better. Our carpets are mismatched and torn up from extensive wear. The paint on the walls are chipping and it just looks so dingy and dirty (probably because it is).  I would seriously start packing my bags and start looking up real estate prices in Raleigh if it weren't for the fact that we've already got a pretty awesome place to live lined up right now, and also because I'm going to be working from home in a few months anyway, so there's really no point.

The training was pretty intense, but I'm glad that my fellow graduates had a lot of the same questions as me.  We learned about doing expense reports, what we can/can't expense, how to book travel, what time should/shouldn't be billed to the client, how flexible our travel plans can be, how to use our company systems from the perspective of our new positions, and what our first few weeks are going to be like.

It was a lot to take in, but I'm so glad that I went.  The information was invaluable, and I loved that most of my classmates were my age.  The Raleigh office is much younger than the Philly office.  So they had a lot of the same "This is my first time traveling for business" type questions that I did, and they weren't afraid to ask them.  For example, they asked if we can bring someone along with us when we travel, and can we stay the weekend and come back on a Monday if we end up traveling somewhere awesome (hello, VEGAS!), or can we stay with family/friends instead of staying in a hotel.

Our instructor was able to answer all of our questions, and we learned that my company is actually pretty fair.  It makes me really excited to start this new phase.

I gained some new apprehensions though, for example, there's no guarantee as to how many days you'll have at home.  Even airline pilots, who literally travel for a living, are guaranteed 11 days at home per month.  A previous graduate came in to talk to us and we asked her about it and she said that last month was really busy for the study and she only spent 5 days at home.  That scares the bejeezus out of me.  5 days at home a month?! Seriously!?   But our instructor assured us that this was very very rare, and may only happen at crucial points in the study, like recruitment.  Let's hope so.

I'm still really excited!  Next step: designing my office!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Engaging conversation

One thing about being engaged is that people love talking to you about it, and usually, their first question is "Do you have a date?"  It doesn't matter if you've been engaged for less than an hour, people somehow assume that you have everything planned before the question has even been popped.

It doesn't normally bother me, but I went to dinner with some coworkers while I was on my business trip and they all asked when the wedding was going to be, and then they all gave me a face when I told them my, now, standard answer.

We've been engaged for a little more than a month, and while a lot of things have been set in stone for years, like the fact that my neighbor/friendor (friend + vendor = friendor) will be catering, and that my sister will be making my wedding cake, one thing that we haven't thought too much about is a date.  Considering that we got engaged in the last few days of August, we felt like anything in 2012 was just too soon.  We both have a lot going on right now.  We both just got promoted, I'm going to be traveling like crazy, and Chris will be going back to school shortly, so the prospect of it being that soon just doesn't sound like fun to me.

So we've settled on a year: 2013.  So that's what I tell people.  And then they look at me like I'm insane.  For some people, getting engaged is pointless unless a wedding is being planned.  What's the point of being engaged if you're not planning your wedding rightthissecond?  They forget that it's more than just planning a party.  It's a promise that you're making to your partner, and the ring on my finger is a symbol of our commitment to each other.  That's what we both wanted more than anything.  Telling people that we were boyfriend and girlfriend felt weird to us, almost like a lie, because we were so much more to each other than that.  We wanted to express what we felt internally, externally.  We are committed and we do plan on getting married-just not right at this exact moment.  It doesn't make me less engaged, and I don't feel like a long engagement is a bad thing.  In fact, it feels just right to me.

I can do things at my own pace. There's nothing that bothers me more than being rushed.

Did you have a long engagement?  How did you deal with people's sour attitudes?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Here goes nothing

Well here I am in North Carolina.  I'm all unpacked, fed and settled in.  My hotel room has a glorious view of....the parking lot, but on the plus side, my room has this really awesome behind-the-mirror TV in the bathroom so I can watch Dancing With The Stars while I shower.  I seriously need one of these at home.

Besides, I got tons and tons of the most beautiful views on the flight over.  Flying at sunset has its perks.

Looking at these views it hit me all at once that very soon, I'll be on a lot of planes and that these will be regular views for me.  When I got to the hotel, I called my parents, all excited, to tell them about the super cool TV behind the mirror in the bathroom, and that it had occurred to me that this was the first time in my entire life that I didn't have to share a hotel room with anyone; to which my dad replied, "It gets old, kid."

I hope not. For now, it's all still new and exciting.  Of course, I still miss Chris and that will definitely get harder as time passes, but we're discussing options to help us with that, like getting new cell phones for Christmas that have frontward facing cameras so we can video chat on the run.

Well it's getting late and I should get to bed.  I've got a long day ahead of me. Wish me luck!  How do you guys keep in touch with the ones you love when you're apart?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Do you have some sort of business woman special?

I recently made a trip to Marshalls and stocked up on some young professional travel gear, since, ya know, I'm going to be traveling a lot in the very near future (so exciting!).

For the professional end, I got myself this super spiffy carry on luggage. I hope you appreciate the pictures because it took quite a long time to capture since Wriggles and Zoe (aka Pebbles and Bam-Bam) are kind of camera whores.

That last one's just for relativity
I wanted a small bag that would be good for a few nights, that can be put in the overhead compartment, and it needed to have 4 wheels so I don't have to drag it all over the airport.  
And for the "young" part of young professional, I got some super cute travel accessories; including a really teeny-tiny umbrella and the funnest travel-size toiletry bottles EVER.

Betty makes everything sluttier
How cute are those little bottles!?  They came with a pack of stickers to label the bottles.  Some of the Betty Boop faces were pre-printed to say things like: Lotion, Cleanser, Shampoo, and Conditioner.  But there are also a bunch of blank stickers.  I used 4 pre-made labels on 4 of the bottles (2 Shampoo bottles, 1 Lotion, and 1 Cleanser-if you're curious), but I don't know what to put in the 5th bottle.  What am I forgetting?  
And those little jars are perfect for eye cream, jewelry cleaning solution....or as one pre-made Betty Face Label suggests: hair bands (really Betty? Really?)
Anyway, now I'm thinking about all the other little knickknacks I'm going to need for my travels.  Specifically, I have recently become obsessed with briefcases and laptop bags.   Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge fan of hand bags.  
But the laptop bag I'm sporting is...well...hideous.  It's made of some slightly reflective synthetic fabric that I can only describe as "Crossing Guard Vest Material".  It was given to my by my company, and while it has served its purpose thus far, it's really godawful.  It's also about 4 inches bigger in every direction than it needs to be.  So I've been looking for something smaller, sleeker and much more me.  Here's what I've found:

Clockwise from top left: Train Case, Flat Bag, Cream Leather, Faux Boho, Stripe-y, Felt & Leather, Up-cycled suede, a bag to match my MK purse
I love them all!  And I also have exceedingly expensive taste because the only affordable bag is the felt one and even that one's over $80.  My favorite of the bags above is the recycled suede envelope bag, and it's a hefty $375, but it's also probably not as professional as it should be.  My best bet is probably the Brahmin Melbourne bag that goes with my purse (which is also croc embossed leather) but it's still $295!
And then, of course, there's this puppy:
The 2Unfold by Hard Graft

I DIE.  It's perfect!  It can hold my laptop, turn into a backpack for when I'm traveling through the airport, fold over into a clutch if I'm going to dinner, and has about a million handles to make grabbing and going easily accomplished.  So what's the problem?  It also has a whopping $529 price tag, not including tax and shipping from Europe. Boooooo.
The thing is that with my new job, I'll probably be toting my laptop (and a HEAP of paperwork) everywhere, and traveling all over kingdom come with it, so as my mom keeps reminding me, a sturdy briefcase with lots of pockets and (gag) wheels will probably be necessary.   Boooooo again.

So while I dream of a gorgeous laptop bag, I'll probably end up with one of these clunky suckers:
Boo some more!!! Ugh, at least it's better than what I have now.  But it's still over $200! WHY?

Do you have any travel tips for me?  How 'bout a laptop bag suggestion?  Did you notice that I've recently discovered the collage feature in Picasa3 (lol, so fun!)?