Christmas in Berlin

Planes, trains, and automobiles – I am in the midst of a 30 day journey that will take me from the red rock deserts of Southern Utah to the domed spires of the Milan cathedral, from the salty shores of the Adriatic sea to the warm Caribbean waters of Jamaica.

I’ll pause and post when I return to civilian life, but for now, my greatest hits.

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Kids Cruise Packing

Plenty of websites give direction when it comes to packing that cruise carry-on, or providing extra tips for things to bring along to make your trip easier, there are even websites focused on how to sneak booze on your cruise ship. But, when it comes to packing lists for kids, the resources are limited.

For this trip we’ll need swimsuits, beach shoes, dressy dinner clothes, casual Disney clothes, lounging clothes, shoes, socks, and just-in-case, a jacket for warm weather. So, here’s what I’ll be packing for my two boys for our two-week Christmas Cruise.

What else am I missing?

Kids Packing List

Avoiding the Office Urinal Cake … and other career tips

Urinal Cake

Once upon a time I worked as a Barista at a ski resort alongside a rowdy snowboarder crowd. My colleagues enjoyed the odd Friday afternoon adult beverage, and although I was not of legal drinking age, they’d occasionally invite me to join them.

Now, I’m not one to shy away from a margarita, but shooting tequila wasn’t exactly my 19 year-old strength – though now I can hang if needed.  But, on one particular Friday the rowdy crown invited me to partake, and though I probably should have declined for a number of personal and professional reasons, I said okay.

I took the shot, and the second shot that followed an hour later, and the third shot that came around 4:00 when at the same time, my good sense and my gag reflex intersected. My belly revolted, and I knew a hurl was coming. I ran for the nearest toilet, mouth-watering, chin quivering, and I realized my closest option was the men’s room. I made it just in time to unload my brown-bagged lunch all over the urinal.

When you find yourself staring at a urinal cake covered in your own vomit, you might want to reconsider your career choices, and other things I’ve learned from the corporate world through trial and error.

  1. Conflict should always be resolved voice to voice, not via email.
  2. Never order a meatball sub at a business lunch.
  3. If you’re frustrated when writing an email, put it in your inbox and let it rest for an hour.
  4. Never order that third margarita at a business dinner.
  5. If you have to cry, do it in private.
  6. Don’t put your hands behind your head when wearing a tight shirt in a hot room.
  7. Hurt feelings shouldn’t dictate business decisions.
  8. Don’t hesitate to apologize first so you can move on to important business.
  9. Sometimes, you just need to shut your mouth and wear beige.
  10. Own one really perfect pair of black shoes.
  11. Invest in a professional laptop carrying case.
  12. Attend every social event hosted by your employer, even if only for a moment.
  13. Never limit your perception of responsibility to what is written in your job description.
  14. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer – take on any opportunity that comes up.
  15. Don’t group CC to castigate someone, do it quietly and privately.
  16. Share your concerns with your boss, but when the decision is made, get on board.
  17. If it’s important, write, edit, proof, let it rest, print it out, then proof read it again.
  18. Make friends with the IT team.
  19. Use your PTO, it’s an important piece for rebooting your mental systems.
  20. It’s not personal, it’s business.

It’s Not All About Me

One of my best friends, with whom I’d lost touch when she moved back east, had a baby today. I didn’t even know she was pregnant. She called me, not about the baby, but because she wants a divorce.

My little sister, my BABY sister, told me at lunch today that she was diagnosed with breast cancer on Tuesday. She’d never even mentioned finding a lump.

My son got suspended from school on Monday because he and a friend “table topped” another kid in the lunchroom.

The police sent an email to the neighborhood that two children report being approached by a “suspicious” man in a blue sedan this week.

And, my little brother got laid off on Friday.

All combined, this is just more of everybody else’s shit than I can take. I am so much more adept at being the center of my own chaos.

Bending Over Backward

Angry Scotsman

Every once in a while I really manage to piss someone off.  Not just kinda, we’re talking nuclear grade, maximum emotional-button-pushing, pissed off.

I managed to do that this week to a level that resulted in someone almost walking away from a multi-million dollar deal.

My offense? I said I was “bending over backward” to satisfy what he was asking for, but I was concerned that even that wasn’t satisfying his expectations.

His bulbous Scottish face turned eggplant purple, his veins began to pulse, he called me a “cock-up” (which I immediately had to Google), and he stormed out of the room.

I don’t mind eating a big plate of shit (I mean I’d rather not, but I will) so I gave him my most heartfelt apology and assured him that I am happy and eager to bend over backward to make this deal happen, but that I need to ensure his expectations of the elements we were agreeing to were understood.

I wonder though, is the fault his or mine?  I mean, he overreacted and basically threatened to kill a huge business deal because he got his feelings hurt — which is pretty ridiculous if you ask me. But, I am the one who seems to cause this reaction in someone new every couple of years (only in men, it seems).

I’m conflicted with stress. My boss calmed him down and didn’t say anything to me about it afterward. The man’s a notorious hothead, and all is well now.  But, is this something I need to figure out how to change about myself?

We all come with professional strengths and weaknesses, is the occasional ignition of the overly temperamental a weakness I should accept in myself, or put on project status?

P.S. – Cock-up comes from the Scottish Poem “A cock up your beaver” which, though it sounds crude, actually references putting a cock’s feather in your beaver skin hat to indicate that you are paying attention.  A cock-up is someone who isn’t paying attention or who makes a number of mistakes.

Zen and the Art of Sightseeing

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I am one of the fortunate souls who doesn’t get jet lagged. Perhaps that’s just my biology, but I think it’s probably my approach to International travel.

My Routine for Avoiding Jet Lag:

1. Sleep En Route: While people will encourage you to avoid alcohol when travelling I am a strong advocate for a glass of wine, or two, to help ease into sleep while flying. Every hour of sleep you can get while flying is one less hour of sleep lag when you land; and wine makes me sleepy.

2. Hit the Ground Running: According to travel Guru Rick Steves (and one of the toppers on my Five List ’cause I’m kinky like that) one tip for avoiding jet lag is to start your vacation on local time. “On arrival, stay awake until an early local bedtime. If you doze off at 4 p.m. and wake up at midnight, you’ve accomplished nothing. Plan a good walk until early evening. Jet lag hates fresh air, daylight, and exercise. Your body may beg for sleep, but stand firm: Refuse. Force your body’s transition to the local time.You’ll probably awaken very early on your first morning. Trying to sleep later is normally futile. Get out and enjoy…”

3. Limit Caffeine: On day one, avoid using coffee to keep you awake. Instead, use your body’s natural rythyms to rise as close to sunrise as you can and then call it a night early.

4. Sleep with The Curtains Open: To aide that “rise with the sun” idea sleep with the curtains open so that your body can adjust to the new sleep schedule more naturally.

5. Imbibe, But Just a Little: In a recent article for The Daily Mail, Orlando Bloom gave his tips for avoiding jet lag, and that included avoiding alcohol. Now, while I agree you shouldn’t go on a minibar binge of Tequila and Tobblerone, two glasses of wine before bed on the FIRST night in a new timezone, followed by an early lights out is my proven method for getting a decent night’s sleep in a new environment and waking up on local time. I do the same thing on my first night home.

6. Don’t Bring Your Pillow: It makes you look like a travel noob and subconsciously reminds your body that you’re not at home. But, mostly because it looks ridiculous.

7. Pack Sleepwear AND Loungewear: Change out of your day clothes and into your lounging clothes to tell your body its time to relax; then change again when its time to sleep. Set new routines in hotels to teach your body what to expect, and when.

8. Triple Alarm Clocks: Nothing will mess with your sleep like tension that you might miss a critical appointment. Solution: set your cell phone, the room clock, and request a wake up call so you don’t wake up worried that you missed your alarm clock.

9. Water, Water, Water: Dehydration will make you fell run down. Stay hydrated to avoid wearing yourself down which will leave you feeling slugish.

10. Whitenoise: Find something that masks the unfamiliar noises and helps you relax into sleep. I’m fond of leaving the TV on, at a super low volume, so that it drowns out the street sounds, and those frisky neighbors

A Code No One Understands

Sitting in a noisy corner of a quiet bar there’s a story tickling the corners of my mind,
a song of Pirates, Cowboys, and runaway mothers on spring break
– abandoned in a forbidden and foreign place.

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There are lying lies, and the damn liars who tell them
covetous addicts, and drunks,
Telling stories without telling the story of the story teller.
And there are writers, who hide a lie behind the truth,
writing in a code no one understands,
yet hoping that one person will.

There sits a bottle, half finished,
whether full or empty depends on the audience,
and one’s perception of sitting alone to enjoy half a bottle of Seminyak Semillon.

There were fears not realized, and there are promises not kept,
and apologies that didn’t convey remorse
… I’m sorry if you thought that, but not sorry that was what I did. 

There was a happily ever after, that followed a prologue.
There was an almost, a never was, and a maybe-one-day
all preceded by an unsatisfying epilogue.
But, only the most trite of stories has an ending that offers closure.

Instead there’s the code: of silence, of expectations,
of conduct for adult behavior in adult situations,
that meets at the intersection of  once-upon-a-time and happily-ever-after
in a delightfully roundabout sort of way.

The Umbrella of Arrogance

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I’ve started a dozen posts, then stopped them, because I don’t want to share those thoughts.

I’ve posted a dozen photos, then deleted them again, self-consciousness eventually overwhelms every endeavor.

I used to write, until my writing became too much of a tool that could be used to judge, or potentially judge (perhaps only in my mind) my inferiority.

People who “know” me see a slim, fashionable, quick-to-laugh, professional with an exciting career and a dreamy husband.

But, that’s all just PR.

I am more flawed than I’d ever let even a best friend know, and my marriage is just as imperfect as the next.

I once opened up about all the cracks in my foundation to a friend I thought I could trust, only to see it thrown back in my face and joked about, through anonymous but thinly veiled references on Facebook.

But, it didn’t kill me, just wounded my pride a little and then made me stronger.

I have a secret super power I guess – my innermost layer of “I can do it better than anyone else!” remains impenatrable, even in the worst of times, and against any adversary.

I’m less bothered by my flaws than some, and less debilitated by the constant self-doubt that others feel. Arrogance is my secret strength, even when trembling to my core with fear and indecision, there’s a voice in my head that eggs me on.

My imperfections give me confidence. I see that even with my myriad faults the world still treats me as if I’m special. My kids still love me. My parents still call on my birthday (in spite of my awful teenage years), and I still get invited to social gatherings and neighborhood functions.

So maybe, I’m only as terrible as the next guy … and gossipy, judgemental frienemies, can go f*ck themselves.

Ballin’

Last week was definitely one for my adventure log, unfortunately it was also accompanied by context which makes it all sound far less exciting.  But first…

Friday morning, last, I awoke at 6:00 am, showered, shaved, and shampoed, grabbed my trusty green carry on, my white patent leather Ted Baker tote, and a go-cup of coffee and headed to the airport for an 8:53 AM flight to Chicago.

That’s when the texts started rolling in – cancelled flights, delayed departures, and nine of my colleagues, four models, and one celebrity spokesperson were all de-routed from our final destination, Chicago, due to one bozo’s breakdown.

Undeterred, I pulled into the economy parking lot and dialed the Platinum Medallion line at Delta.  “Angelette” and I mapped the perimeter of Chicago and determined that a flight to Detroit, departing an hour after our originally scheduled flight, had six available seats, followed by a three and a half hour drive to get to Chicago.

Doable, but not ideal, and who among us was expendable?

That is the moment when the old adage kicked in, “It isn’t a problem if you can solve it with money.”

Heads together, cell phones blazing, a plan was concocted: charter a jet for ten to Green Bay, Wisconsin and drive the rest of the way, then send the six least critical of the group to Detroit to drive the rest of the way to Chicago (knowing of the possibility that flight would be cancelled as well).

wpid-20140926_143306.jpgLuckily, for my adventure bucket list, I am considered critical, and off to the private plane I went. Then the waiting started, the flight attendant cancelled, delays on the jet in Aspen, more waiting, as we left the six less critical at the main airport, with a destination of glamorous Detroit.

After a quick freshen up in the private airport lounge, at 2:00 pm, and feeling rather baller, I climbed aboard a Bombardier, Challenger en route to somewhere in the Mid West. We were hoping for clearance to land in Chicago, but knowing that Green Bay and a long-ass shuttle ride to Chicago would probably follow. At 6:30 pm, when we touched down in Green Bay I consoled myself that “Hey, at least I got to fly private.”

Until I got the email from the disposable-six that they had been able to secure seats on 2:00 pm Chicago flight, and were happily waiting at baggage claim for their luggage as I was climbing on board an 11 passenger van, bag of Chex Mix in hand, and no bathroom in site, in the middle of the Friday rush hour commute … my ball was feeling pretty deflated.

When we drove past Milwaukee the collective bellies of the group started grumbling with hunger, and it was decided we’d grab burgers. Thanks to Yelp a burger house with great reviews was located, and in we tromped, a Mormon, a Model, a Millionnaire, and a Mix of Mumbling travelers who’d rather be sitting in our hotel rooms enjoying room service.

That’s when we met Destiny … Literally … Friday night in Milwaukee means Drag Queen Bingo with Destiny … and I loved it!

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