Saturday, June 27, 2009

How NOT to spend a Friday evening

I haven't been home in nearly two years (since Frenchy made his first visit there, in August 2007) and I haven't been there at the same time as my parents AND my sister in over three years. Shocking but true.

So I've been pretty psyched about the prospect of a weekend at home in the sunshine with my parents and Nicole, and also to get some much-needed wedding planning in. So tonight I went to the airport in order to take a 7:30 flight to San Diego. I left at 5pm, sat in traffic for an hour and a half, and barely made it to JFK by 6:30, in time for check in.

But I shouldn't have worried. By the time I got there, the flight had already been delayed to 8:30. And then, within a few minutes, to 9pm. So I settled in for a long wait - a supposed severe thunderstorm hadn't even shown up yet - and decided to treat myself to a beer. A big beer.
And the next time I checked the departures screen, my flight was leaving at 10pm. So I signed up for an hour's worth of wifi, and did my best to entertain myself. The next announcement I heard told us that our plane had landed finally and was just waiting for the gate to open up and the passengers to unload.

The minutes ticked by. People got more and more annoyed. And another announcement told us our gate had changed. So we all packed up and rushed across the airport terminal. Only to learn that the plane hadn't landed at all, and was still circling over JFK. I felt sorry for the people on the plane... they'd been on a 7-hour trip from Chicago, complete with an unplanned stop in Virginia. At least I was in airport with beer and wifi.

Except that the restaurants and newsstands had all closed. And my wifi connection was no good at the other end of the terminal.

When our flight was delayed until 11:15pm I started to think the worst. You see, San Diego airport has a noise curfew, and thus planes can't land after 2am. Planes that are already en route can, but not planes that haven't even taken off in time to arrive. The thunderstorm had long come and gone and, admittedly, it was impressive. Dozens of flights had been cancelled. And yet we were delayed again, until 12:15am, with a scheduled touchdown in San Diego at 3am.

And around that time, the pilot announced that the flight would be cancelled because the crew would have been on the clock for over 24 hours by the time we'd land. Whoops, time to run again. This time to the Delta ticketing counter, where we were unfortunately the last mob of people to have had a flight cancelled. Meaning nothing was left.

I have an 8am appointment at our wedding location and a 10am dentist appointment. Not to mention a cake appointment, plans to see two bands, and of course the whole hanging out with the family thing. And MEXICAN FOOD! I want Mexican food!

Ugh. So I waited in line, sat on hold on the phone, no luck. Nothing that would've gotten me to San Diego for longer than 24 hours. And as crazy as I might be, I'm not THAT crazy. Fortunately, that's when my dad stepped in. My dad of a gazillion frequent flier miles. Next thing you know, I have a flight at 6am out of Laguardia, stopping in Chicago, getting me to San Diego by 11:30 in the morning. And with upgrades to first class, no less!

And nearly nine hours after leaving my apartment, here I am again. And I'll sleep 2 hours and then try again. Fingers crossed this time...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Say say say it ain't so, Michael

I honestly don't even know what to write. I'm so sad.

Michael Jackson was not only one of my all-time favorite performers, musicians, singers, dancers, all-around badasses, but also one of the favorite things that Quentin and I shared. The number of hours we spent watching MJ videos on youtube is shocking. And the number of times we've listened to Michael's songs borders on obsessive.

I've moonwalked in every country I've ever been to. And Quentin can even do the sideways moonwalk. One afternoon I mentioned to him how I wished I could do that move, and he looked it up on youtube and mastered it in moments. He showed off his new moves nonchalantly in the Calatrava lobby as we waited for the elevators that evening. To say my jaw dropped would be a ridiculous understatement.

And of course, just last December, I celebrated my birthday in Paris with a Madonna-Michael Jackson party. Their 50th, my 30th. Thank goodness I did it then, because this year it would be in rather poor taste...

This very afternoon, I was on a quick video skype chat with Quentin, who had finally managed to purchase THE white suit for our wedding, and he was so enthused over it he couldn't help but do a few tried and true favorite MJ moves to the delight of my work colleagues.

And as Quentin and I have tried to decide on our wedding song, we've been debating between Michael and Stevie. Because, while we love them both, our whole incredible relationship started because one night back in February 2007, he dragged me from one room of Otto Zutz to another because Billy Jean was playing. And we had dancing to do. And kissing.

So... thanks Michael. Your music always lifts me up and makes me dance. And I credit you alone with the fact that Frenchy and I couldn't help but must a move together that night in Barcelona. I've been walking on the moon ever since. Rest in Peace, Michael!

Sideways moonwalk at 0:23, 1:23, 2:15, 2;29 3:52, and 5:17.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How NOT to start your day

My doctor ordered some routine bloodwork on Monday afternoon and said I could stop by the lab anytime from 8-5, Monday through Friday. Considering I have to be at work by 8:30 and that I couldn't eat before having the blood drawn, I thought it would be a good idea to go there at 8am to get it over and done with and be able to get on with my day.

So I left my apartment extra early, jumped on the train, and headed for West 14th Street. I arrived at 8:05 and of course the waiting room was already full. Wouldn't you know. So I put my name on the list and took a seat. I think I was 7th or 8th on the list, but people with appointments take precedence, so getting there early wasn't really THAT much help. Particularly since I happened to go there the morning that only one person was working.

I've been to this place before. It's usually pretty quick - two little stations and two nurses - but just my luck, this morning with only one nurse there, it was S-L-O-W. Not anyone's fault, just unlucky that nurse number two happened to be trapped on a subway somewhere. Fortunately I had already alerted all my colleagues to the fact that I might be a few minutes late, but as the clock ticked toward 9am, I really started to worry about the time.

And that's also when I realized that, in my rush to get to the clinic this morning, I'd left the iron on in my apartment. In Brooklyn.

Now each minute that passed felt like three as I imagined burning the whole building down. I sent an email to one of my colleagues explaining the situation because not only would I certainly be late, I also would have to go back home to unplug the alarm before coming back to the office, but on top of that we had a presentation for a pitch to prepare. My timing is awesome.

Meanwhile, there was a Puerto Rican woman with two kids, a boy and a girl, in the waiting room as well. And it was clear that these kids hadn't ever had blood drawn before and were very nervous about it. But instead of telling them things like "It'll be ok" or "don't worry," she was saying things like, "Don't be a baby" and "You better not start crying," in a mix of Spanish and English. The poor kids were getting more nervous by the minute, saying they wished it was already tomorrow so the whole needle thing would be over. I understand. I wanted it to be tomorrow too, so that the whole DAY would already be over.

Finally it was their turn, and they had a drawn-out spat over who would go first. Somehow it ended up being the boy, who we could hear whimpering from the cubicle as the nurse tied the rubber band around his arm. The wimpering turned into full-fledged moaning and sobbing, and then once the pin prick had happened, we could hear the nurse say, "See? That wasn't so bad, was it?" To which he responded, "YES IT'S BAD IT'S HORRIBLE I'M GOING TO DIE I'M GOING TO DIE I'M GOING TO DIEEEEEEE!!!!"

Which is about when the girl reappeared in the waiting area, crying and hoping no one would notice she was hiding in the corner so she could escape the whole ordeal. Instead, her mom and the nurse came for her next and she started crying and screaming and saying she didn't want to do it. We were all waiting, everyone late for work, and so finally the nurse gave up and said she'd take the next patient. Thank goodness. And amazingly, nurse #2 finally appeared at exactly the same time.

The next patient was, mercifully, yours truly. And as I waited at the counter for my paperwork to be processed, I asked the little girl if she wanted to come with me while I had my blood drawn to see how easy it would be. She tearfully declined, saying "You're older than me, so of course it hurts you less!"

So of course I was in and out in about 90 seconds (why do you always have to wait SO LONG for things that are SO QUICK when it's finally your turn???) and nurse number one was trying to convince the little girl to get it over with. Finally she said, "Okay well I've tried to do this the nice way but we're going to have to do it the not-so-nice way, since your doctor said you have to have this done!" Since I was passing by on my way out, I somehow got wrangled into a child wrestling session. She was so adamantly opposed to the whole needle thing that it took four of us two hold her down. She sat on her mom's lap, the first nurse getting the needle ready, the second nurse doing I'm not sure what now that I think about it, and me holding her non-needle arm and trying to convince her to talk to me rather than looking at what the nurse was about to do.

But she insisted, and screamed and writhed right up until the second the needle went in, at which point she calmly said, "Wow." AND THEN STARTED LAUGHING.

I mean really. I waited an additional 30 minutes for that?!

Anyway everyone was really grateful for "that nice lady's assistance," and then I was off on my merry way. To race back to the subway, back to Brooklyn, back up to my apartment, unplug the iron (which hadn't set anything on fire and actually had an auto-off feature, but I wasn't sure), and then BACK into the subway to get back to the office.

If you don't want to suffer from high blood pressure, I recommend you start your morning in an alternative fashion. Frenchy just read this post and asked via skype, "How to finish your day?" To which I replied, not purposely, just magically at the right moment:

Long Distance Wedding Planning

You know what's totally awesome? Finding the love of your life, your perfect companion. You know what else is awesome? Planning your rad beach wedding with said perfect companion.

Not so awesome? When you're in New York, Perfect Companion is in Paris, and the wedding is in San Diego. Talk about complicated! Thank goodness for parents! Mine have been so helpful in organizing our wedding while we're spread all around the globe.

It's been particularly tough since I've moved back to New York, because Frenchy and I are doing our planning via phone and skype, which is something most couples get to enjoy doing together. Like, in the same physical location. But we are making the most of it, doing the best we can, enjoying the time we do get to spend together (two weekends so far since I left Paris, every three weeks), and also utilizing the latest in mobile and computing technology.

For instance, this morning, I received the following poem via email:
I love you
C'est tout
Juste un petit poème
Pour te dire que je t aime

And why, on Saturday morning, I woke up to a couple of incredible emailed images on my iPhone, like this
And this

He's pretty foxy, huh?

Well, unfortunately, his white wedding suit dreams were dashed yesterday evening, when he received a call from the shop salesman informing him that no, he could not buy pants that are a different suit size from the jacket. You see, Frenchy is rather well-endowed, according to Calvin Klein standards. In the rear.

Which is why, later this afternoon I received the following beautiful poem via email, entitled "Wedding Suit Research Conclusion":

My big butt
Screwed me up
What the f*ck
That sucks

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Little Things

Of course there are big things that make me happy, just like anyone, but sometimes it's those little things that make all the difference.

I've been back to New York for nearly two months, living and working, and while all of that has been great, it's also been a little ... complicated. I'm not talking about the fact that Frenchy and I area separated by an ocean, though that can be complicated too. I'm talking about the fact that I leave my apartment by 7:45 every morning and rarely return before 9pm. And, in my particular building, while there is a doorman and a super, if you want something delivered you actually have to be there to receive it. And if it's a piece of furniture, that requires the freight elevator, which can't be used for big stuff on the weekend.

I think you can guess where this is going. As I write this right now, in fact, I'm sitting on my "couch," which is actually a folded up moving blanket left behind by the guys who brought the stuff from my storage space, a pillow against the wall, and arm rests made up of boxes of CDs. The most comfortable couch, it is not. But it works. And until my better half arrives from France and can wait for a delivery while I'm at work, it'll have to do.

What HASN'T worked so well is the lack of coffee in the apartment. And so on Sunday afternoon, when I was at Target and saw a little Bialetti Moka coffeemaker like we have in Paris, I knew I had to have it. Because, you see, there also isn't really any counter space for a proper coffee machine in our "kitchen." Which, in typical New York City style is actually just a wall on the other side of the living room.

Sunday night as I was talking to Frenchy via skype, I showed off my new purchase. I was beyond excited about the prospect of having a cup of coffee before leaving the apartment on this Monday morning, and Frenchy said, "Oh, so I don't have to pack our coffemaker in Paris! Great!" Then he paused, and said, "Maybe you should go back and buy a second one."

Anyway, I would be lying if I said that the coffee I had this morning before work wasn't one of the best I've ever had.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Best Barcelona Haircut - L'Adresse

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may know that I had a rather disastrous hair experience in Barcelona during the first year of my MBA.

Interestingly enough, I wasn't the only one. In fact I had several conversations with other expats in BCN who'd run into hair catastrophes. Finally one of them told me about a French guy she'd found at a salon aptly named Le Salon, who had given her not just a normal haircut, but a GREAT haircut. And as such my love for Damien was born. Unfortunately, he vanished from my radar during my summer in Bucharest and during my second year I was again adrift in the cruel waters that are the Barcelona haircutting culture. (Anyone who has been to Barcelona knows that the favorite hairstyle is the mullet.)

But, magically, I found him again! He fortunately had my mobile number on file and so when he opened his very own salon and sent out a text message announcement, I realized who it was and called him immediately. His space, L'Adresse, has been open for about two and a half years now, and it's gorgeous. Fabulous decor, great music, a tea selection he brings back from his monthly trips to New York, and awesome cookies. Oh yeah, and did I mention he gives fantastic haircuts and does amazing color? Men, women, kids, he does a great job with everyone. So much so that people (including me) actually fly to Barcelona specifically to see him!

So, whether you're someone who reads this blog regularly, or a random who has happened upon it because you googled "haircut Barcelona," I recommend you give him a call. Oh, and he speaks Spanish, English, French, and some Catalan. So never fear, your hair is safe with Damien!

C/ Córsega, 204 principal 3ª
Barcelona 08036
+34 934 100 329

Friday, June 05, 2009

Vote for my Blog!

Hi everyone!

The kind folks at Lexiophiles and have nominated my blog as one of "the hottest blogs about International Exchange and Experience from all around the world, submitted by Lexiophiles readers and users." Which is really nice of them.

And you know what would be really nice of YOU? If you'd click on the little thingy below to vote for me! My blog shows up toward the bottom of the list, Stranger in a Strange Land of course! Thanks for your love and support!