the same derned template! If you're one of the two semi-regulars who read this, you'll see that I've gone back to the old set up. I am still not happy with the look but I'm too lazy challenged to figure out how to design a new template and the others I've seen online don't exactly match what I have in my head (so, yes, in a way, I would love finding someone who really can read my mind--I'd be set for clothes, music, and basically whatever else I wished for on a whim). Stay tuned. Or don't.
Yes, I got burned. Yes, I brought sunblock and very stupidly skipped a day. I'm shedding my skin like a damned snake.
Eventually we did attend the thing that was the reason for our vacation. The groom was one of my husband's college classmates and a friend of ours. Their wedding was right on the beach, ditch your flipflops at the door type deal. The guests received rose petals to toss at the bride and groom as they departed down the sandy aisle. I had to throw over three heads (and remember, I am 5'3"). Needless to say, I got a little overzealous and beaned the poor guy next to me while executing my power rose petal toss. Luckily we knew each other, but still--mortifying. I am not athletically gifted in the least, and moments like that allow my klutzy side to shine through.
9. Monday, Monday
We were on the beach Monday morning, and home that night. We saw the photos we took after arriving at the Punta Cana airport and passed on the $9 price (does anyone actually buy these photos?) We had to go through customs at the Miami airport, which was possibly laid out by the late Dr. Seuss. They even seemed to know it was bad as they had paths marked out in different colors for weary travelers. If you were going back to D.C., you followed the giant yellow decal dots on the floor.
10. A new day
My husband had to work the next day, so he really wanted to get onto the earlier flight (we looked up flight times using the wifi network at the Punta Cana airport). We sent off the luggage and somehow Mr. Charmer sweet talked us into an earlier flight. Pessimist that I am, I would have waited it out. Standby usually doesn't go well for me, so I'd rather not get my hopes up. I also know that he mentioned the delay from the other day and his opinion of American Airlines afterwards. The gate agent looked up. "Well, it's a new day," she said as she handed us our tickets for the earlier flight.
3. Welcome to the Dominican Republic We arrived in the Dominican Republic at around 10 p.m. Part of the excitement of visiting the Caribbean is flying over the island and watching that midnight blue water go to turquoise. American Airlines, thanks to your incontinent plane, we got none of that! You stole my joy!
We were ushered out of the plane, across the tarmac and to the airport gate. People lined up and there was an assembly line where you took a picture with two women in traditional dress, and then went on your way to customs. I have to say whoever thought up that one was a true business person. I am sure I looked like hell after spending an entire day in airports and on planes, but bless them for trying.
Customs was quick, which is to be expected. What the hell are we smuggling into the DR anyway? Clean underwear? Toiletries? We also had to pay a fee to enter (this was never explained), but I handed over the cash. Everyone knew English. It was "WelcometotheDomicanRepublicenjoyyourstay" (Stamp passport). Unsaid:nowgetthefuggoutsoIcangohome. I'm sure we were the last flight to arrive. Everyone looked tired of pretending they weren't tired.
The trip to the hotel was quick. Some of the other wedding guests were there too. I peered out of the window, but it was dark, so I didn't get to see everything. I just wanted to get checked in so I could go to sleep.
4. The Moon Palace This place was unbelievable. The scale of the doorways and the height of the ceilings just made you feel insignificant. The hotel rooms had two person jacuzzis in the floors. The bathroom was massive, with a walk in Roman style shower. There was sparkling wine waiting in a container of water which would have been ice had we checked in at our expected arrival time. Everything was grand.
5. The one in which I become G the Mosquito Slayer The only thing that sucked (you'll get the pun in a second) was when I discovered the swarm of mosquitoes in the bathroom. There were a bunch of them, and they weren't shy. Unfortunately, mosquitoes love me because of my sweet, sweet blood type. Instead of going through the usual pre-bedtime routine, I decided to knock out some of the population before they attacked me for a fresh nightcap. I clapped, chased and stalked mosquitoes. I found a bunch under the sink and when I got tired of hunting them, I went to bed. I had a few more days to lower their numbers. Besides, it seemed for every one I killed, five more would emerge to take over.
By the second day, my husband introduced the towel snap technique. Yes, the locker room trick, which ended up being very effective. I even designated one of the towels just for the purpose of killing mosquitoes. By the time we left, their spot under the sink was a ghost town.
5. Ghost Palace
Speaking of ghost towns, the resort was nearly empty...and I loved it! 1700 rooms and maybe 300 people? You could have an entire pool to yourself. You could hit the beach and see nothing but empty loungers. It makes me a little sad because I know if we go back, it won't be the same. There is something to be said about getting away from it all--especially when "all" includes other people. 6. Flight of balloon boy
We spent one afternoon watching the balloon boy saga. It seems like big things happen when we take trips. When we were in the Bahamas, the U.S. Navy ship was bombed in Yemen. Okay, never mind, that's a truly lame comparison. The balloon boy event was not a "big thing" at all, it's just that the hotel TV was receiving a local news channel from Denver, so we got to see live footage of a mushroom-saucer mylar balloon that allegedly had the boy in it for at least an hour. We watched it till the end when it landed and--surprise!--no one was inside. Hoax, I thought. As more came out about the parents, something seemed amiss. When the boy emerged from the attic claiming that he had hidden and taken a nap, I thought "bullshit." When the police officer decided to press charges on these idiots for wasting resources, I felt a little bit of glee. Okay, no, I felt a lot of glee. I am tired of people mugging for fame and shamelessly dragging their kids along for the ride. It's bad when your 6 year old is the one who tells the truth.
In between jobs, I took some time off. The time just happened to coincide with a vacation my husband and I were taking. It was something we had recently reserved once we were no longer a one income household (curse you, recession!). Well, little did we know a month later I would be taking the hit (curse you again, recession!)...but anyway, we planned a vacation.
I won't say we haven't done anything in the past few years. He and our daugter went to England to visit family earlier this year. I've vsited my best friend a few times. We went to California last year for a wedding, and we also did our trek to Vegas. It hasn't been all work and drudgery, but we haven't been to a beachy place with drinks that require mini umbrellas in a long time (okay, four years). Luckily we both love the beach. I know some people don't (yes, it's true), but we do.
Our destination was Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Neither of us have been there but a friend was getting married and it was close to our ten year anniversary (which is actually today, no applause, thank you) so we decided to celebrate with them.
1. Getting there is half the fun
Who came up with thise phrase? I would like to personally beat that person about the head. I can't see how it's even a tenth of the fun unless we're picturing the Hot Chocolate number from the Polar Express, and even that can grate if you're not in the mood for a spontaneous song and dance routine. And don't even talk to me about a cruise. Trapped on a boat on the open seas with a million strangers with only a few hours to hop a through bunch of ports? It sounds like a nightmare. I like to go someplace and stay.
Our flight connected in Miami. My limited experience with this airport was when we flew to the Bahamas for our honeymoon. I remembered that the layout made no sense. We landed and saw that our connecting flight was delayed by 40 minutes. No big deal, I thought, I will grab something to eat and wait it out. Eleven dollars spent, a greasy ham and cheese sandwich and subpar flavored hot water (because I can not bring myself to call it "coffee") consumed, we sat at the gate and waited. The plane was there, they just needed some extra time to clean the bathrooms. Woowee, take your time, I thought, knowing that our seats would be near the back.
When they started offloading bags, I realized this was not something a plunger and Formula 409 could fix. The explanation expanded to include "leaking" and "new plane" and "4 o'clock departure." Then it included "No other flights" and "Ten dollar vouchers." Just looking out of the window revealed a giant puddle beneath the plane's midsection, and the dripping from the belly wasn't exactly a comforting sight. We were off to a great start.
We were relocated to another gate at the far end of the E terminal. This involved getting onto the tram and trucking it the rest of the way. People were sprawled over the seats, napping. There was a little jewelry counter. There was a huge window to look out at all of the planes that would be arriving AND leaving before ours. One of the people at the gates announced that there would be a water salute for a firefighter that died. Have you ever seen one of these? I never have, so I figured, why not?
A bunch of other people watched too. I staked out a space where I could see (this is critical when you're barely 5'3") Not long afterwards, a giant of a man stepped right in front of me.
"Excuse me." I said.
He swerved so he was squarely in front of me.
"Excuse me, I'm standing here." I said.
He glanced down with a look on his face that could best be described as "bemused."
I wanted to punch him, but that's not really appropriate when watching a ceremony that honors someone's life, is it? A few other people ushered me in front of them to shut me up and give me a better view. I am guessing the dude didn't speak English, but rudeness is a universally human thing, isn't it? Most of the time you don't really need to speak the same language to realize when you've done something rude to another person. How can someone stand directly in front of another person and not be sorry? I don't get it. I'll have to add that to the ever growing list of mysteries of the human race. A lot of good my degree in individual psychology did me.
2. Dead Headphone society
I am usually good about packing spare headphones, but this time I only had one set. As luck would have it, this set had lost a speaker. It was the first time this pair had failed me, and I used them daily for my workouts. I twisted it around in the jack and chalked it up to a faulty armrest. Remember when the headphones were specific to the plane? The sound was pushed through a two pronged airhose, and you had to pay for these technological wonders that ONLY worked on planes? What a racket! The first time I watched "Splash," I watched it with my sister on a flight to Italy. We (our dad) did not buy the headphones. Instead, we raised the armrest, turned the volume WAY up, and tilted our heads so we could watch the screen and hear the words. Just paying the two bucks for the headsets would have saved hundreds in chiropractor bills. Just jokes, folks. My back is fine, but my neck...
Anyway, my husband forgot his headphones. During our extended layover at Miami, he bought a pair for the high, high price of $19.99. Yes, they sucked. Yes, we got free ones in the plane. I figured my one sided speaker dilemma (it wasn't a faulty armrest, I tried them in my iPod and they still didn't work) was solved, but as soon as I stuck those freebies in, the plastic casing fell apart and the wee little speaker popped out. Oh well.
I started a new job last week. I was fortunate enough to have more than one offer after being unceremoniously "let go" from my last company. There is more on that, but it may be a few years before I can recount the story without reflecting too much bitterness over it. Maybe I could even eke out a brilliant but dark hearted comedy--but then again, it's already been done (See: "Office Space" and if you have 7 1/2 hours to spare, check out the BBC version of The Office. I just watched that--hello, Netflix instant watch--last week. Why didn't anyone tell me? Okay, people did make it known, I just never checked it out till recently, therefore I will just pretend that no one told me. I like the American Office too, but I relish the complete awkwardness of the British version).
I don't really work in a cool place anymore. I used to work in Crystal City in Arlington, VA. It had its own metro stop. It had restaurants galore. It sounds cool too, right? Crystal City. Say it! It's like Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz. With all of the defense contracting companies in one spot, I'm sure there are more than enough wizards working behind curtains than you could count. It even has its own website! You could buy anything from puppets to shoes to overpriced Hallmark cards. It was all downstairs from my building in a convenient underground maze. If the weather was awful or you didn't want to go outside, then guess what? You never had to. I loved it!
I also got complacent. The new job puts me back into the crappy DC traffic mix. I have been doing alright with that...so far. I have new perk too. No more suits. In fact, apparently *they* make fun of you if you wear a suit. The rule is that you wear whatever you feel comfortable wearing on the days you work at the company office. This doesn't mean I plan to show up in pasties and a G-string (it's not that kind of establishment). I am thinking more along the lines of jeans. I can ditch the heels. I can wear Uggs! (yes, I recognize that this is not a victory for the more fashion conscious out there) I saw running shoes, sweatshirts, jeans and flip flops on my first day. People were actually in good moods. There were bagels and fresh fruit in the kitchen and not just because someone brought them in. Those things are there every day. There are no vending machines, but the fridge is fully stocked with juice and soda. At my old job there was free coffee (presumably to keep the worker bees fueled up, but everything else was about fending for yourself and hoping no one took your meager lunch from the community fridge). I am not saying any job or company is perfect, but this is a vast improvement. I will keep you posted.
I set up the new template but my little navigation bar at the top is gone, which means I have to log in to the blogger site from scratch and post from there--I can't do it from my blog link. Or maybe I can, but I am too lazy impatient to figure it out. Have I mentioned that I am somewhat technically challenged? Let's just say that the six computer science courses I took in college weren't exactly my finest hours.