Wednesday, September 27, 2006

To Pack: Comfy Shoes

Thus commences the boring vacation recap posts. :-)

Ryan and I got to New York on Thur. Our hotel was in a ghetto of Jersey. Just a 15 minute walk, and a 1/2 hour bus ride into Manhattan. We must have taken that bus ride 15 times, sometimes getting picked up by the random short bus where we were the only English speakers. Anyway, that night we drank in Times Square, Rockefeller (the ice skating rink is a bar in the summer) and
Greenwich. We saw the greatest funk band at a place called Groove. I'm telling you, I wish we had music like that. The next day we slept off our hangovers, then walked them off in Central Park and through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That night, after swinging back to Jersey for the rest of our group, we hit Greenwich again.

The whole weekend 4 of the 9 of us get very adept at ditching the other 5. The other 5 included an egotistical bossy mean man, his wife who went to New York to try to get herself a paying job taking pictures of the race (huh?), a nice boy who's main fault was that he wants the favor of the boss man badly enough to be a little puppy, a firefighter who's cute and knows it, and his 19 year-old girlfriends who literally brought 2, 77 lb bags and only stilleto shoes to wear. Um, yeah. So Ryan and I hung out with Keith (Ryan's captain) and Micah (their engine driver).

Back to the recap. We got ourselves nicely sloshed and played a game of sending the mean boss man and his group to bars that we weren't actually at all night. He! We also managed to accidentally take a train to Queens.

The next morning we knew we had to go to Ground Zero and I wasn't looking forward to it. I'm a little hyper-emotional. When we got down there the first thing we did was go to St. Paul's Chapel. It is right across the street from the WTC and somehow survived the disaster. Rescue workers came here to sleep and pray. The fence outside the church graveyard was the fence you saw in pictures where people posted pictures of their missing loved ones, and where firefighter and policemen's boots were placed on the spikes to be identified.

Just past the fence there you can see a big awning. That's where a memorial should be, but its not. That's a subway station. People are kind of wandering around there aimlessly. There's a few large pictures up on the fence, and that's it. That and the hole. I went to Ground Zero expecting it to be one of the hardest thing I ever did, but I felt nothing. I thought I'd feel all those people who died there, but I didn't. I wish they'd build a memorial. A place for people to go.

The rest of the day was spent registering for the race and visiting a few bars. We then went to the pre-race spaghetti dinner. And guess what? The entertainment was The Temptations. THE Temptations. It was so flipping cool. Then they ushered us outside and they had a huge fireworks show over the Hudson River. It was amazing.

The next morning was the race, and that'll take a whole blog post. Here's a few other random pictures until then.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New York IS a Wonderful Town

I just don't even know where to start. Ryan and I had the best time on our trip. Hands down the best part was the run. It was amazing and unreal. The weirdest part was actually being in that place where 9/11 happened. With the people it happened to. Running that same path that Steven Siller ran from his truck in Brooklyn to the world trade center in an attempt to save lives when he could very easily have kept going towards home. And the support of the New Yorkers for us having come all that way, and the extreme generosity of the New York firefighters.

I've taken lots of pictures and I have lots of stories, but I'll never be able to put into words the feeling of it all. New Yorkers may have a repuation for being cold and a little rude, but we saw a different side of New York this weekend.
We saw the most amazing things, and met amazing people. Tomorrow night I'll post details of the trip, tonight I'm just trying to come back down to earth.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dirty Car? We can help!

Anyone in the East Valley of Phx who has a dirty car: I've got you covered! The fireboys are having a car wash to benefit the charities of the Stephen Siller 9/11 Memorial Run tomorrow (Saturday). I'll be there w/ camera in hand of course. It is at the (ghetto) Fry's on Ellsworth and Broadway from about 9am-noon. It would be great if you could come out!

Business out of the way, so on with the blog.

Dooce has a post today about relationship deal-breakers. I read her stories about her ex's and the insane things they did to cause her to run for the hills, and it got me to thinking about my past relationships. I've been pretty lucky, actually, to have a pretty good
group of guys in my past.

My high school sweetheart, who I dated into my first and second year of college, was a good guy. A preacher's son. He was very popular and a lot of fun. Well, he cheated on me. When we were 20. And the girl was 15.

Then there was the boy who was all wrong for me. He listened to rap music, was extremely full of himself, wasn't necessarily good looking, but he made me feel really good about myself. Like I was something to be desired. Until he cheated on me.

Then there was the gorgeous bouncer. His nickname in high school was 'Chip' because he kissed a girl so hard that he chipped her tooth. I'm pretty sure he was gay. Its not like he made out with boys or anything, but come on! I dated the boy for 6 months and he didn't try anything. A girl can tell these things you know. I broke up with him to see if he'd come running after me. And he didn't. And I was devestated and cried in my dorm room for the better part of another 6 months.

Then there was the best friend of guy number 2 up there. Yeah, I dated best friends, so sue me. This one had the romance thing down. He made me melt. But then I found out that before we were dating he used to park his car in front of my parents' house on weekends
that I was home from school just to be near me. And then he cheated on me with his roommate. And then I ran into him while he was trashed in a bar and he pinned me up against the bar and was a little pushy with me. He then got bounced from the bar, went outside and trashed a woman's yard in the area, and got arrested. Nice.

There were a few others. I can't say I didn't have my fair share of fun in college. Besides anything, I was a lone girl in an engineering program. I had my pick! And what a pick they were (ha! engineers!).

So what's my biggest deal-breaker? Cheating. I've had some experience in this area. I've been cheated on. People close to me in my life have been cheated on. There is no 3 strikes, not even 2, when it comes to cheating. I say that, but I've gone back to them. I went back to guy 1 and 2 after they cheated on me. I've never been more ashamed of anything in my life.

So there you go. My deal-breaker. :-) But now my current guy (ahem, that'd be my husband) is better then any guy I could have ever dreamed up. But I guess we use all those bad relationships to teach us which ones are the good ones, huh? I'm pretty thankful to all those assholes for teaching me that I deserve what I got: my perfect match.

(Random Karma D. Bear picture)

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Unavoidable Post

Everything about September 11th is so, I don't know.... done? I don't want to just write a lame blog post about it. I've read more eliquent writers today describe their feelings beautifully. I guess I don't feel like I'm that good about describing things like that. But do I have to? Don't you all feel that way too? Like you're lacking in ways to describe how you're feeling, and you feel the need to justify why it is you feel so strongly. I mean honestly, other then watching 9/11 unfold on TV and suffering the after-effects, how many of us actually knew someone who was injured or killed? Right? So what gives us the right to claim 9/11 as our own?

But see, that's the thing. I feel like it belongs to all of us. Today I obsessively listened to Howard Stern's replay of 9/11/01. I couldn't stop listening once I got to work, so I broke the rules and streamed Sirius at my desk. After the replay they had a discussion (today, not a replay) about how it is 5 years after. Well those New Yorkers were talking about how angry it made them that people, TOURISTS, flocked to Ground Zero like it was a tourist attraction, and how businesses were profiting from others' tragedy. Ok, honestly I can see how they'd feel that way, but still... It made me a little mad. Or sad? I don't know. Because really, I do feel like what happened that day happened to all of us, and that our country is more together as a result of it.

And because I'm a glutten for punishment, I listened to 6 hours of Howard replays, looked through pictures of today and five years ago on the Internet, and talking about everything with coworkers and friends. And while I can understand that some people purposely avoid this day and pretend its not the anniversary of something horrible, I honestly feel like we have to remember, we SHOULD remember. Because without that day, there'd be a little less appreciation for what we all have in our lives that's good.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sense and Sensibility

The weather has finally turned in Arizona. You know Fall is coming when you start hanging out on your back porch at night because its only 90 degrees out. Really though, it is just gorgeous at night here lately. My neighbor has been out of town for the summer (he's a snowbird) and begged us to drive his convertible occasionally while he's gone to keep it running. Um..... OK! So tonight we just drove around with the top down, watching the lightning all around the Valley and enjoying the warm night air.

I'm a reader. I'm the kind of person who when I'm in the middle of a book I can't focus on anything else in my life. I just finished a mystery/adventure in the same vein as The Da Vinci Code, and today I started reading Sense and Sensibility. Many times I've attempted classics and I often get bored and eventually just stop reading and never finish. I get really bogged down in the descriptions of every little thing. Books that are published today aren't like that at all. The books I usually read, even those in the 'Literature' section at Bookmans, are easy in that if you are a speed reader like me you still get the whole picture. Classics force me to be slow, and I get antsy reading them.

But when I was checking out at Barnes and Noble with 3 shiny new books in hand on Sunday (using a gift cert from my in-laws! Thanks guys!) I really felt the weight of that Jane Austen book relative to The Amber Room and The Perfect Manhattan. I mentioned my fear of Classics to the cashier lady, and she said something that made me want to really read every single word in that heavy book. She pointed out to me that when Jane Austen wrote this book in 1811, travel was difficult and acurate pictures of places just didn't really exist. So the details? Necessary because the readers wouldn't already have a picture in their heads of what say, Manhattan, looked like. Interesting! I guess I never really thought that one out, but it makes a lot of sense. So I'm diving into this book pretending I've never been to England and walked through the countryside myself.

I've been collecting donations for this run we're doing, and I am absolutely amazed at people's generosity. Ryan and I had already paid our race fees out of our own pocket, so the fundraising was simply to benefit a great set of firefighter charities. I figured anything I could get would be put to good use for kids around the country, and if I got $5 extra besides what's we'd already collected, it would be a success. So I sent out an email to everyone I knew, and the money came pouring in! People thanked me for collecting for such a great cause! I tell you, its really made me consider how much more I could be contributing to people who could use the money more then me.

That's all I've got. (OK, so I am blogging to hide from Sense and Sensibility! Sue me!)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Watch the Hands!

Mika is in Week 7 of Intermediate dog training. The dog is smart, and I'm not just saying that 'cause she's my dog. She's one of those dogs that really does well with structure, and she needs to be entertained constantly. Training has turned her into this great dog in a short amount of time.

So, the guy who teaches our class, Gregg, is well-known in the dog world. He trains movie stars' dogs, he gets flown around the country to train rich people's dogs, and he also created a system of training that is used in Petsmarts around the country. So yeah, he's good. And tough. On the humans. But besides being tough on us, our good friend Gregg has taken a special interest in Mika's mom. That's me if you're keeping score. Gregg's a close-talker to the extreme, and when he's trying to make a point to me he puts a hand on each one of my shoulders and talks to me with his nose about 3 inches from mine. He talks to me like I'm a child, and he lectures me for about 30 (very uncomfortable) seconds too long. But then there was week two, the first time I'd been without Ryan. Evidently I did something well (for a change) and Gregg yelled to the rest of the class: "Everyone! Isn't she great?! If she wasn't married, I'd marry her!" Then he whispered to me, "You are married, aren't you?" Um, yeah creepoid, now back off.

So since then I've been on my gaurd, and it really helps when Ryan's there for class. But last week I was working in one of the isles of the store w/ Mika and Ryan was out of eyesight of us. Gregg came to check on our progress and was unhappy with how I was moving my hips to cue the dog. So he demonstrated. By putting his hands on my hips and moving them for me. For real people! So now we've moved Gregg alert to Code Orange, Code Orange being: "Gregg is a creep who could possibly not be harmless". So Mika and I have a plan: Go to class, keep our mouths shut, do what we're told, and avoid the hands. Yikes.

The weekend was pretty good. I made my first ever carrot cake from scratch for the guys at the station and it was SO GOOD. I'm telling you, it was perfectly moist and absolutely delicious. And unlike my brownies (which are one of my favorite things to make), the cake didn't appear to cause any bad luck to befall the shift that day. Evidently those brownies make bad things happen which have the guys up all night answering ridiculous calls ("Um, Mr. Firefighter, my stomach hurts. Its been bothering me for 3 days and I just decided at 2 o'clock in the morning to take care of it, thus waking you from your slumber because I just assume that you're awake your entire 24-hour shift anyway.") Anyway, the guys are really superstitious, so the brownies have, sadly, been banned. I'm still working to perfect my frostings. I'm anti store-bought frostings.

Dan over the wall at work is still at it. Today he actually was singing that country song with 'Amanda' in the title. He also yelled "Yeah baby!" at least 3 times, and todays main song of choice was "Phantom of the Opera." I'm worried about him.

Bye for now!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Weird little man over the wall

In April I started a new job with a new, very odd, group. There are 12 of us in my group, and 11 of the 12 are very strange characters. Me being the normal one, of course! Anywho... I'm telling you, there's some weird ones in this group. There's the 72 year-old guy who spends his day at work yelling at customer service reps at various cell phone or insurance companies on the phone. Then there's the stooped over little man who when our boss' uncle (who none of us knew existed) died, he went around with a notebook writing down who was or was not going to the funeral. So he could report it to our boss. Or how about the man over my left wall who makes it his business to make sure that my friend Brad and I stay our full 8 hours, and who just today confiscated the paper football we were playing with in our staff meeting. Yeah, he's a lot of fun.

But a guy in our group who is good for some entertainment is the guy over the wall behind me. We'll call him Dan. Well Dan has an affinity for women he meets on the Internet. He recently bought a Lexus because it is a 'chick magnent', and just today he insisted that I smell his new cologne (which he was wearing) and give my opinion. He's harmless, but odd. And the oddest thing about our friend Dan is that he likes to attract attention by talking to himself loudly at his desk all day, waiting for one of us to comment.

Thus, our new blog entertainment. I've been keeping myself busy lately by writing down some of the fun things that Dan says loud enough for someone to hear 3 isles overs. Hey! It beats mind sweeper. So here we go...

Heard on Wednesday August 30th:
Cool beans!
Yeah baby!
You people!
Oh my goodness....
Ohhhhhhh.... Boogers boogers boogers
Oh baby! This guy is good! Watch out!

Red rover red rover
File, Open, new... yes!
One quickie look, there we go.
Oh yeah baby!
Out of freaking office?!
Can you imagine listening to that all day? Yeah, well, add on to that the fact that the man knows his Broadway musicals like no straight man should, and he sings them all day. So there you go. Look forward to more entertaining Dan outbursts.

Can't tell you how excited I am about NYC. I haven't been sleeping because my mind is racing about what we'll do on the trip. Tomorrow the guys are having a car wash to raise money for the charities supported by the run. I'm also soliciting donations from people I know (so if I know you in real life, please consider sending a donation with me to NY).

Oh, and I'm so obsessed with working out to get ready for the run and the reunion that today (my day off from working out) after drinking two beers I felt so guilty that I took the dogs for a 2 mile run. And actually? Running while slightly drunk is fun. Maybe I'll add more drunk runs into my training. :-) Later!

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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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