Friday, November 21, 2008

My Many Travels

We have a lot to catch up on. By "a lot" I mean approximately the ten pounds I've put on in the past week. The other day I took off my jeans and I literally had welts along the waistline and the thighs because they were so tight.

It started out early next week (and by early, I mean 4 AM, which is when I got up to catch my flight) when I made the trek from San Diego to Hartford, CT. There is no direct flight between the two points, so much of that day was spent stuffing airport food and snacks into my mouth in between and after flights. Our corporate partner put us up at the Saybrook Point Inn in Old Saybrook, CT, which was surprisingly nice. Old Saybrook is a cute little New England town, where as far as I could tell people never left. The Inn was lovely -- the photos that you see in the Photo Gallery link on their website is actually very representative of the facilities. The rooms were huge, and best of all, the bathrooms were spacious and incredibly well-lit (and as someone who is prone to such strange afflictions as the occasional zit on the eyelid, I can attest that the lighting was adequate for the alchemy required to cosmetically remedy my maladies). The photo above was the view taken from my room. I should have had a really good nights' sleep but there was this nautical mirror in the room which gave it a sort of shipwrecked/haunted feeling, which resulted in paranormal paranoia and thus insomnia on my part in what should otherwise have been an incredibly romantic environment. In short, the inn is great for couples, not so good for the paranoid.

I took this picture at the restaurant at the hotel, Terra Mar. The food was surprisingly good; I had pretty low expectations of a small-town operation, but then again, I do come from a town with not much to brag about in terms of restaurants. I started off with the Maine Lobster Bisque, which was delightful, and followed up with the Stonington CT Seared Sea Scallops, which were a bit overdone but otherwise good. Breakfast was hearty and satisfied me well into lunchtime (which was fortunate since the salad we ordered in, from a local lunch place, was basically rabbit food with no dressing).

That evening, we proceeded on to New York, where we stayed at the Westin Times Square, whose rooms are not nearly as nice as depicted on their website. I suppose they look roughly like the photos, but the pics have clearly been photoshopped to appear a lot more upscale than they actually are. The common terminology amongst the group when describing the restroom was "prison bathroom". It wasn't terrible by any means, but compared to the Old Saybrook Inn it was tired and certainly a few steps down.

We headed over to Valbella in the Meat-Packing District for dinner, where an acquaintance arranged for us to get a room in a private wine cellar. There was a vault-like door, which, once closed, made the room completely silent, and I felt like we were a bunch of teenagers at prom in a restaurant at which we were much too young to patronize. The waiter there confirmed my sentiments. I don't recall too much detail on the gastronomic joys of the dinner (being surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine might have had something to do with that), but I did discover that 1) the President / COO of our partner company loves beets as much as I do, and 2) I pretty much could not fit another bite into my body due to clothing constraints. The food was good, but I'm not sure it was commensurate with the price, and all that was blunted by the haughty attitude of the waiter on staff.

The next day, after a sleepless night and waking at 3 AM PST for a day of meetings, we went around town and met with other business people. Without going into too much more detail, let me just recommend Quality Florist if you ever need a florist in New York (they do a great job, and really care about their customers), and Schweitzer Linen if you're in the market for luxurious sheets. There was then a trip to the airport, and then 7 hours spent at JFK while our flight was perpetually delayed and I was ready to slit my wrists with a plastic knife. I swear the plane we took back was made of Legos and had half the space of any normal plane.

I was home then for a day, and then headed out on a spa getaway weekend with a friend of mine from business school. We went to Palm Springs and stayed at the Westin Mission Hills , which was a nice-enough-looking resort but could have been better on service. We were first booked into a room with a King bed, which was annoying since 1) we had specifically requested a room with two double beds, and 2) as two working moms looking for a break, we were really looking forward to hogging up an entire bed and sleeping spread out into a star shape. We were eventually moved into such a room, only to discover that we had a room with a leaky sink. The resort was pretty dead -- probably reflective of the economy. The restaurant at the resort was ok -- nothing that blew me away.

We ate one evening at Thai Smile, which, despite the alarming lack of Thai people, was actually pretty good. We also watched the latest Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, which eliminated any doubts I might have had that being a secret agent is a very family-unfriendly job. After a week back at work, I'm ready for another vacation. Sadly, there are none on the horizon. Ah well, there's always wine.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I Got the Boot

Whoa, I didn't mean to make the image that big. But I also can't seem to figure out what I did wrong, so let's move on.

I haven't posted in a while, so you (I do have a realistic perception of my readership, so yes, that would be "you" in the singular) may be wondering what I've been up to. The truth is, I can't really remember. I blame my children. I have this theory that while you're pregnant, the child, in addition to sucking all the nutrients out of your body, also drains away the ability to ever wear dresses made of knitwear and your short-term memory. The worst question anyone can ask me on Monday morning is, "What did you do this weekend?"

The good news is that I have been taking pictures, so those usually help me with recollection. And I do remember that two days ago, I got into work, reached into my bag to pull out my laptop, and promptly got a deep wide paper cut from a manila folder that I had also shoved into my bag. It was on my fourth finger on my right hand. Before I went on my trip to Colombia I went through the exercise of carefully selecting a fingertip to have lopped off if my kidnappers were to do so in order to prove that I was in their custody (this also assumed that they would have taken requests, but I would think that most kidnappers would). I'm pretty sure that at the time I went with the fourth finger -- probably on my left hand. Having cut the fourth on my right hand, however, I'm sort of reconsidering. The fourth contributes more than you think -- it really helps to balance your hand when doing a variety of tasks, ranging from slicing vegetables to styling your hair. So I'm really not sure what I'd pick. The pinky? That one's pretty important too -- especially for capitalization on a QWERTY keyboard. Tough call. Maybe best to leave it to the kidnappers.

Speaking of business trips, I have another one in about a week. I'm going to Connecticut and New York. After I booked the trip I realized that I had no closed-toe shoes. See the photo above to find out why. So I embarked on a mission to find ankle boots that met the following criteria:

  • I can comfortably spend 12 hours on a plane in them.
  • They are not totally boring and devoid of style.
  • They are no more than $300, since the majority of their useful life will happen on this trip.
  • I can walk around NYC in them while lugging a laptop, luggage, and a handbag that I would have rubbed with Apple leather cleaner prior to departure.

Since the local selection is pretty limited, I ordered a total of 8 pairs of boots from the following retailers:

As my forecast expected, only one of them really worked out. To my surprise, it was the cheapest of them all -- they were so cheap, in fact, that I almost didn't order them. So the winner is: Audrey Brooke's Jimmie Leather Ankle Boots -- at $69.94!!! They're cute, incredibly comfortable, and practically free! A close runner up was the Boutique 9 Coda ankle boot from Bloomingdales -- going for $195, it had superior materials and craftsmanship, and surprising comfort level given the height of the heel -- but I think the boots run a little big, so the pair I got was way too loose. If my trip weren't next week I'd consider exchanging, but the Jimmies are so comfortable that I'm not looking back.

And kudos to DSW, from whom I've never purchased: they shipped everything quickly and packaged it beautifully. When it came time to return one of the pairs of boots that didn't work out for me, they made it really simple: there was a DHL label enclosed, and best of all, you can schedule a pick-up from your home free of charge. That's so lazy -- I love it!

But to answer your question, I have sometimes been taking the kids to the beach (see above). I think part of the reason I don't remember much is that nothing really happens to me anymore. Does going to the grocery store happen to you? Does being tired all the time count as happening? Anyway, I've also gone to Legoland recently, but I'll write about that another time.