12.28.2006

First Class, the new love of my life

[First, a clarification on yesterday’s blomit: Sigh. This is what happens when I type and post without checking for coherency. Just need to state for the record that Mimi Smartypants was linked as an example of a blog-to-book writer worth reading- she is witty, smart, and as far as I know, not pretending her blog book is anything but a compilation of posts printed out and published (mmm, alliteration). I actually kind of sort of want to be her new best friend, not only because she resides in my home town, but also because she and her husband adopted their daughter, seemingly just because they could and why bother with the reproducing thing when there are plenty of kids out there already that need a family? (Okay, that may not actually be why they did it, but from what I’ve read we do seem to be on the same page re: the whole parenting shebang) The book-from-blog thing I read last weekend that I thought was such crap is by a blogger whose name I am withholding. For reasons having to do with discretion, politeness and not getting my ass kicked, virtually or otherwise.]

Now, on to the First Class experience. Thanks to Clod-the-brother-in-law's upgrade points I have tasted heaven, and it tastes like free booze and fantastic customer service. We pulled up to the airport with a toddler, a baby, and what seemed to be 400 pieces of luggage. As a childless traveler, I had no idea it was necessary to bring the entire contents of your house with you when you leave town. We breezed past the check-in line to the First Class counter, skipped through security, and ducked into the Admiral’s Club, a.k.a. the Golden World I Never Knew Existed. I’d always imagined the First Class lounge at airports as a separate, plain room where the wealthy could sit and have a drink without being forced to hear and see the common folk. As soon as the glass doors swooshed closed behind us and we stepped into the polished granite reception area however, I knew it was much, much more than that. We took the elevator up to the general Club area (who knew there was a whole second floor at the DFW Airport?!), and walked along the glowing corridor, admiring the fancy flooring and glistening blond wood accents, with Clod scampering ahead yelling over his shoulder “Free cookies! The drinks are cheap! Have you seen the showers?” We settled into one of the sectioned-off lounges, had some complimentary coffee and snacks, explored the place for a bit (“you can get online over there! Go look at the bathroom! Do you want something to drink?!”), then I somehow turned into Traveling Nanny as Clod and Monk left the group to play on the internet. The Niece was crabby, Baby Nephew wouldn’t nap, I was bored out of my mind. After a while, Monk, Clod, the Niece and I went on a reconnaissance mission for muffins and cookies. I admit I felt a little like a rock star as we spilled out through the glass doors and into the airport chaos. Albeit a rock star in ratty jeans, fleece jacket and sneakers.

Later, after a last-minute, 2-hour delay, we finally boarded. I don’t know the correct airplane mumbo jumbo, so let's just say that a 777 is one of those big honkin’ planes that fly to Europe all the time. That means that the First Class cabin was actually a separate area of the plane, with fully-reclining seats (including an adjustable foot rest!), wonderfully thick, quilted-comforter-like blankets, and your own personal television. None of this barely-bigger-seats-and-no-divider-between-you-and-the-common-folk nonsense. The baby had finally fallen asleep so I offered to keep him for the flight, rather than wake him up by shifting him over to Sister (and by the way, the looks on our fellow First Classers' faces when we walked in with a toddler and a baby? Awesome.) We were offered drinks (in real glasses! No plastic in First Class!) while we waited for the plane to take off. One very strong vodka tonic later and we were in the air. The flight attendants came around with warm bowls of mixed nuts for everyone. They refreshed our drinks. They cast many grateful looks my way when they saw the baby still quietly sleeping away. We were given hot towels (I daintily wiped my hands, Monk eagerly gave himself the First Class version of a sponge bath).

Did you know that on flights over two hours, First Class passengers are served a meal? The Niece chose the three mushroom pizza, while Monk and I enjoyed the salmon (with rice pilaf, a side salad, and another glass of wine). With a sleeping baby keeping me warm, a glass of wine beside me, and a book in my hand, I was more than willing to continue on to London from Chicago. But of course that is not my life.

After three days of family (felt more like ten) during which Clod disappeared at every opportunity (to go back to sleep, grab some lunch for himself, or simply “just drive around”), Monk, Clod and my brother managed to get my just-turned-21 cousin absolutely sloppy slurry drunk (paired a billiards game with shots of Crown), my mother showered everyone with guilt about the Christmas Eve service (“SOME of us are going to CHURCH.” Monk and I, heathens that we are, stayed home with the Niece and Nephew), Sister yelled at her husband, my father yelled at everyone else, six people shared one bathroom… I was more than ready to sink back into the inner sanctum of the First Class world.

The return flight was similar to the first, except that 1) with no sleeping baby on my lap I was free to drink twice as much as I had before, 2) I read a terrible book (I think I’ve mentioned this already?), and 3) my dinner was cheese tortellini in a roasted red pepper cream sauce. Oh, and 4) one of the flight attendants took quite a shine to Monk, flirting (subtly, but shamelessly) and chatting every time he walked by. Towards the end of the trip, Flight Attendant Boy asked Monk about the book he was reading, then asked to borrow it for a minute so he could write down the title. I was convinced Monk would later open up the book and find Flight Attendant Boy’s number written in one of the margins. Alas, no such move was made (but keep that idea in mind boys and girls, it’s pretty smooth, no?) and I don’t think I’d be lying if I told you that Monk was a little disappointed. Not that he would have acted on it of course, but it’s nice to feel pretty sometimes.

So here we are, back in Dallas, looking forward to raging it up on New Year’s, and ruined for air travel forevermore. Flying Coach from now on will be a real kick in the teeth- sharing the armrest, paying for my snacks, mixing with the little people… I’m thinking 2007 would be a great year to come into some serious money.


Have a safe and stellar New Year’s Eve, everyone.

12.26.2006

Bloggity Blog Blog Blog

I will get the holiday recap post up this week, if for nothing else but to reveal the secrets of Flying First Class on a 777, but today I’m floating around in Snoozeville so that post will have to wait. Hey, let’s talk a little about blogging, shall we? And just so we’re clear, any time I type the word “blog,” I break into a self-mocking little sneer.

--I’m catching up on blogs today, and I have to say I’m glad I put my holiday letter post up before leaving town. It’s a good feeling, like leaving work 30 minutes early to beat rush hour traffic, sailing along the highway and glancing in your rearview mirror to glimpse the nest of barely-moving traffic in your wake. But I loved reading all the holiday letters everyone posted. Too. damn. funny.

--On the flight home last night (I’m such a tease, I know), I read most of a book written by a blogger-turned-author. I’m not sure why I added the book to my stack at Borders before the trip, especially considering the fact that I’ve read this person’s blog and didn’t think much of her writing. Or maybe the writing was okay, but her online personality was a little hard to take. Whatever, I’d read a few weeks’ worth of posts then never clicked over to her site again. So of course I bought her book. I should say right off the bat that I’m not that enthusiastic about this current trend of gathering blog posts together and calling it a book. I think this only works when the book makes no pretense of being just a compilation of past blog posts on paper. And I think this only works well when the blogger is exceptionally smart and witty, and never takes him/herself or the book project seriously from the beginning, and certainly never presumes that this published compilation makes him/her A Writer. And also? One should not slam fellow bloggers’ writing skills (or lack thereof) in said book, when those very same virtual people are the reason anyone found the blog-to-one-day-be-a-book in the first place. It’s nice to link those who link to you, but then publishing your thoughts that those contributors to your fame are “boring,” or that their “writing [is] bad,” may not be the best career move and is probably not an integral part of the plot anyway. Then, when the “author” of one of these blog-into-book projects also decides to intersperse those recycled posts with more diary-ish writing, changes her own character’s name, then calls it a memoir… I hadn’t realized I could be confused and bored simultaneously. Is it fiction? Is it a memoir? Is it a thinly-veiled (and angry and bitter) venue in which to get back at your ex-boyfriend? Anyway. Four hours of my life I’ll never get back. But because I always root for those with big, beautiful dreams of drawing an income from their creativity, I’m going to stop this rant/review before it gets specific and libelous and move on.

--If someone doesn’t update their blog more than once a month, do you lose interest and stop checking? Would you take the link to their page down? Or would you just shrug your shoulders and tell yourself to get a grip, that this blogging thing is a personal (usually non-paying) venture, so there shouldn’t be any frequent-posting expectations and really, these bloggers don’t owe your ass anything anyway?

--I kinda sorta started a pit bull debate in the comments section of a pseudo-news blog last week. I'm afraid this is another non-specific rant, as I'd rather the Big, Glaring Non-Facts receive as little exposure as possible. Basically, I commented on the article unnecessarily mentioning the breed of a dog where it wasn't relevant to the story, then someone replied with an ignorant remark revealing that she actually knew nothing about the bully breeds but had clearly bought into (and was now a spouter-offer of) the hype and misinformation from the media. So I scooted back in to enlighten her. Then I realized that my stomach was clenched up, anger ball style, and I thought it might be better off to back slowly out of the post and just let it die. I was in no hurry to continue an inappropriate debate in a comment section when the original post was not at fault for the breed-specific vilifying in the first place (following me so far?). Besides, ignorant people will die or be killed off eventually... The natural selection thing, right? (either that or they'll continue on with the over-population of the planet, anti-gay, pro-life and breed-specific legislation, littering our streets and highways with burger wrappers and fried chicken buckets, and running the country. Fingers crossed!) Unfortunately I couldn't resist this morning and checked the comments section again, only to see an additional non-fact posted there. People, before you begin a debate, pick up a damn book. Click on one of the informative links I've so helpfully posted over to the right. And most importantly, get your head out of your ass. I ask you to please, if nothing else this holiday season, pass the following fact on to your neighbors and family: Pit bulls do not have locking jaws. Where the hell did this myth get started, anyway?

Less of this, more on First Class air transportation later this week.

12.19.2006

Oof.

Okay, so... between taking the niece to the ice sculpture show, reconnecting with friends (bliss!), working at the clinic, having dinner with Sister's in-laws (don't ask), all the usual blah blah blah of grown-up life, end of season work deadlines, my assistant threatening to quit, my assistant not quitting, bowing out of the guaranteed-to-be awkward holiday party at Boss Lady's house, gearing up for the guaranteed-to-be-awkward holiday lunch the three of us are having tomorrow (a grab bag gift for the first person to show me three people with LESS in common having a long, fancy lunch tomorrow), Monk telling me he will indeed be out of town for work tomorrow (just tomorrow and sure, of course I remember him mentioning this last week), my appointment to officially enroll in the advanced program Thursday afternoon, figuring out what to pack to leave town, wondering how we will survive at my parents' with all 6 of us guests sharing one bathroom, watching the checking account balance plunge farther and farther below comfort level, and actually getting on the plane Friday morning showered, dressed and with all proper forms of identification in hand... I give up. Too much to babble about, too little time. So, have a great holiday (if you're into that sort of thing), and I'll catch you sometime next week (all three of you). Right now I'm going to go have a heart attack.

It does help a little that we'll be flying First Class this weekend. Bring on the free booze.

12.14.2006

About face

I've scheduled an appointment for a facial this evening. I'll just come out and say it: My face is in bad shape and it's high time I started doing something about it. You boys don't understand this because somehow you (bastards!) all age gently, handsomely, charmingly, while we women stare despairingly into the mirror as the wrinkles and sags and loss of elasticity! grow more pronounced each year. Sure, a small percentage of women don't seem to have this problem (at least, not yet- cue maniacal laughter). But I don't want to talk about those women. In fact, let's just consider those women dead to me, shall we? And let's hope they don't run into me on the street. Really. Because I look bad enough, without having to stand next to them.

A month ago, I paid a lot of money (well, a handful of money plus a rather substantial Saks gift card) for some miracle serum for my face. The only miracle it's produced so far is to prove that yes, actually, it is possible for me to spend more time getting ready for bed than I already do. Or the miracle of my feet carrying me into Saks Fifth Avenue in the first place. Either way, not the miracle I was hoping for.

For the last two years or so, I've come close to being violently ill when I see myself in photos. I doubt this is due entirely to the picture-taker (usually my mother or father-in-law) shouting "smile!" and then fumbling around for a few additional agonizing seconds before snapping the shot, enough time for smiles to waver and gazes to dart distractedly off-center.

No, I blame the stress of the last few years, a consistent lack of sleep, my old nemesis (then part-time lover) Smoking, and of course Jolly Old Age, all showing up unannounced and having a party on my face. It hit me yesterday that some women of a certain age (i.e., over 25) do more than the minimum at-home skincare. These women eat well! Drink a lot of water! And pay someone else to care for their skin on a regular basis! And since I generally do two out of the three already (and no, I don't feel the need to mention the large amounts of candy consumed by moi, as of late), sign me up! It might actually be time to let the experts take over.

I will spend a lovely hour after work today getting my face scrubbed, prodded, de-toxed, [uh, whatever the nicer word for ~shudder~ "clogged pore extraction" might be], and moisturized. I'm sure the experience will come with a scathing critique of my skin and its years of neglect (along with the hefty bill) but if I leave the place looking younger and more alive than I have looked in the past two years, I'll be happy. It may be the beginning of something really beautiful- having an esthetician on speed dial.

If not, I'll have to move some money from the Boob Job Eventually account and open a Botox Now! account.

12.12.2006

In-laws are awesome


Back to the grind, after a short and sweet weekend with Monk’s family (the “short” part causing the “sweet” descriptive).

Since we had to pack the Christmas gifts in our bags-to-be-checked, I wanted to make sure they would arrive unscathed. But how? By writing a little note to the people in charge of pawing through our unmentionables, of course. And then praying a little bit.


Our hotel was much nicer, much cleaner and just plain normal this time- who knew those qualities would actually become huge selling points for us? I would have taken pictures to illustrate the normalcy, but just imagine a clean room, no odd stains or markings, complementary happy hour for the guests, and a comforting absence of strange smells and you’ll get the idea.

The visit was filled with the usual parental orgasms over the pure brilliance and beauty their sons cause just by breathing (Monk: Turn left here, dad. Monk’s Dad: Well said my boy, well said!). Monk’s mother made a big fat deal over the few gray hairs on his head (My baby! Is getting older!), and the traditional hour spent discussing some neighbor's grown-up daughter who clearly has over-achiever issues (she's a lawyer! and a doctor! and a mother! and she plays soccer! we may not know much at all about our own grown children and their lives, but look how much we know about this person you've never met/haven't seen since you were 12/couldn't give a shit about even if we paid you!).

I employed my new In-law Tolerance Strategy this time, with grand success. In the past, I’ve come away from visits with the in-laws feeling ignored, shut out or dismissed, mostly because my conversational contributions are talked over, interrupted or simply unacknowledged, as Monk’s parents deftly steer each topic back to themselves. This visit I decided I’d keep my speech to a minimum and just do a lot of Smiling and Nodding. And the one time I broke my rule, Monk’s dad interrupted me and changed the subject (surprise!), but Monk valiantly brought him back to reality so I could finish my thought. Nice guy, that Monk. Overall the new strategy kept my feelings intact, and the conversation flowing (and hoo boy, Monk’s parents sure can talk about themselves: At lunch on Sunday the pair of them took turns speaking for about 25 minutes or so. A glance around the table revealed the resigned faces of Monk, his brother and our 4-year-old St. Louis niece; obviously they’d caught on to the Tolerance Strategy long ago and were just going with the flow at this point).

Monk’s dad also gave me a photography lesson over the weekend! 5 minutes after I’d already snapped a picture with his camera, he gave me tips on finding the shutter button, and then suggested where I should sit to ensure the best angle at which to capture the family for all eternity (FYI, "the family" = "two parents, two sons, one granddaughter, and... not you, Q.") Monk’s dad fancies himself quite the photographer , especially of candid, feel good moments, which inevitably produces many pictures (sometimes blurry, sometimes backlit) of people with strange expressions on their faces, often mid-sentence or gesture. I don’t think anyone has told my father-in-law that "candid" does not always have to mean "unflattering." At least most of the pictures were of his wife, granddaughter or his sons. The few photos with me from the weekend are, as every single photo he’s ever taken of me has been, pretty hideous (I refuse to believe that I have become that un-photogenic).

Spekaing of candid, wow, what an action shot!

I'm the third ass from the left.

Every time we visit each other’s parents, Monk and I remind ourselves that it could be much, much worse. There are people in this world with such nightmarish in-laws that marriages are torn apart. Estrangements are born. Murders are committed! We don’t have that, and we do consider ourselves lucky. Plus, traveling during the busiest time of the year to deal with each other’s in-laws has the added (odd, twisted) benefit of making both of us more grateful for our own families, which is something to keep in mind this holiday season (when I’m holding on to the table’s edge to keep from leaping over it and strangling my mother).

And in two weeks, Monk gets to keep that in mind while dealing with my parents.

12.07.2006

It'd be like a train wreck, probably

Monk and I sent out a holiday letter 2 years ago. In return, we received a handful of cards with a generic greeting and a signature. Last year I don’t think we got it together in time to send anything out. But I don’t think anyone really noticed. This year I’m determined to send something out. We’ve bought the cards and we’ll write a little note in each, but that'll be the extent of it. No more holiday letters from us. It's too much work, trying to make our life seem fabulous.

I started thinking, though, what if we we were to pen a real recap of the past 365 days? A nice, behind-the-scenes look at how we've spent the year. Forget the usual embellishments and liberal applications of Susie Sunshine to the not-so-fabulous events. Throw out the positive spin and just be real.


What would our E! True Holiday Letter be?


First, an excerpt from what might have been:

“Monk is still advancing up the Senior Management ladder at work... Quinn is still working in fashion, but hoping to make a career change next summer... The dogs are fantastic as usual and keep us quite busy... Our life is small but lovely and amusing... Tra la la."


And now, let's get real:

“Greetings!
Quinn here. Most of you don’t care enough to keep in touch throughout the year, so we're not sure what makes us think you'd be interested in this holiday letter, but what the hell.

Well, it’s been quite a year. Upon my boss announcing a year ago -after the company grudgingly gave me a raise following a stellar performance review- that I wouldn’t see another raise until 2008, I decided they could all go to hell and maybe I should explore something I'd actually enjoy doing for the rest of my life.


8 months of class and internship later, I started planning to be a massage therapist full-time. This will happen either next summer, or when Monk’s company raises his salary enough to reflect the time and effort he devotes to being Corporate Joe which incidentally would probably be enough to support the two of us quite comfortably, whichever comes first. So, next summer it is!

Meanwhile, I’ve lost my mind and have decided to enroll in an intense 7-month massage program that teaches additional modalities and prepares students for national certification. Mostly because I like the pretentious way I’ll be able to say to my fellow MTs “why yes, I’m nationally certified. That means I’m better than you.” I'm definitely not worried about the time commitment- seeing as how we’ve lived here for over two years and only have two friends, one of whom is moving away in a few months, it isn’t as though it will put a big cramp in our social life.

Speaking of losers with no social life: Monk may or may not join a new band in ’07, which will not only help fulfill him musically, it might also give him someone else with whom to share his work stories (thank the baby Jesus). As for me, I have contacted a women’s group in the Dallas area hoping that, out of 180 members, one or two of them will get to know me well enough to meet for dinner occasionally, or grab a coffee, or want to sell me some Mary Kay products, or pick me out of a lineup. I had to go through an application process to join the group. No response so far.

We hope this letter finds everyone in good spirits (mmmm, speaking of spirits, how quickly have Monk and I gone through the vodka this year? I think we set a record!). We appreciate all the cards we’ve received already with your computer-printed signatures on them; it means a lot that we’re on your mass mailing lists. Have a great year, I’m sure we’ll all be thinking of each other occasionally. Happy Holidays!

Love,
Quinn & Monk”



Anyone else want to play?


[Wish me luck at the in-laws' this weekend. I think we've picked a better hotel this year. Really, nearly anything would be better than last year's accommodations.]

12.06.2006

thingstodolike

Updating one’s blog on a regular basis has become rather un-trendy lately, have you noticed? It’s as if people have better things to do than yak it up in cyberspace these days.

Things to do like attending corporate holiday parties and square dancing their cares away (that’s right, I joined the Senior Management attendees on the dance floor and took orders from a redneck wearing a wireless mic headset like the good puppet I am) (and yes, it really was every bit as lame as I’d imagined) (but hey, I got to meet the girl from Monk’s office who apparently joins him for regular sushi lunch dates) (no, no, not bothered at all that he's never mentioned this to me).

Things to do like spend all afternoon Sunday massaging my little hands off and then have a fabulous dinner with Skyhawk (which became decidedly unfabulous when he admitted he was planning to move back to New Mexico) (and because I’m a good friend, I’m being all supportive-like) (instead of telling him what I really think of the idea and how pissed off I am right now) (because I do understand, I really do) (but not entirely because damn, man, what the hell?).

Things to do like… good lord, what the hell did we do on Monday night? (I mean, besides watching (at long last) the two-hour finale of The Bachelor and then dreaming an episode of the show that somehow combined their one-on-one date with Fear Factor and the Pirates of the Caribbean?)

Things to do like check out my potential future massage school for the advanced course I’m kind of sort of planning to start next month (except, the person I met with gave me absolutely zero information about the class, never gave me a tour, and then had the nerve to ask if I’d “like to enroll right now?”) (so yeah, I'm gonna need a little more information before I throw money at them).

Things to do like prepare for our upcoming weekend in St. Louis to celebrate the season with Monk’s family (I always get a little tweaked when it comes to packing for trips -“a little?!” grumbles Monk- but the current three-ounces-of-liquid security rules especially throw me) (I hate checking luggage, so I usually just pack a carry-on. But now? I can't carry it on!) (People go a little psycho at baggage claim, have you noticed this? The last trip we took, this woman practically gave me an elbow to the jaw as she shoved me out of the way to get her bag. Settle down, lady- it's called a "baggage carousel" for a reason).

I love parentheses! (The end.)

12.01.2006

Bits

I’ve just reviewed my last post and the whole greenhouse-slash-shed project jumped out at me. I think a big What-the-Fuck is in order, because, what the fuck? When did I become someone who nonchalantly mentions building a greenhouse in their backyard as though it’s all a normal part of their day? Casually mentioning a greenhouse. Seriously, am I that lame now? When I throw out my razor and send away for my dreadlocks starter kit will somebody please come over and smack me?

But the greenhouse idea is solid. The greenhouse is happening. Stop laughing. You’ll rue the day you mocked it when I’m enjoying 12 pounds of zucchini next summer and you’re wishing you had some fresh, free produce. I’m talking major rue. Major.

----------------------------------------------------------

This weekend Monk and I will attend his company’s Senior Management holiday party. And this year the party has a fun and exciting (if “fun and exciting” means “SO not looking forward to this, but couldn’t get out of it”) western theme! I’m anticipating platters of food swimming in barbecue sauce and some kind of torture-in-the-form-of-square-dancing activity on the agenda. The attendees are expected to rock their western wear, which apparently means jeans and a sport coat for the men, and... I-have-no-idea-what for the women. Since I seem to have misplaced my fringed clothing, and couldn’t get over to the Mesquite Rodeo this week to borrow something from the barrel racers, I’m wearing my leather pants. I was advised to pair them with a red top, but after buying and returning three red tops I finally settled on a black sweater-ish thing that has some sparkly things on it (you know, nothing says Festive Holiday Gear like black + sparkle!). Plus, now that I’ll be clad in all-black, I can pretend to be a rockstar. Or Batman. If I can score a cowboy hat while we’re out and about tomorrow morning, that’ll be aces. Hat or no hat, you’ll find me glued to the open bar tomorrow night, plotting a quick-footed bolt to the ladies’ room should anyone try to lasso me onto the dance floor.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Sidenote: If you've switched to the "new Blogger," is it better? Can non-Blogger people comment, or do all comments need to come from Google/Blogger account holders?