Archive for the ‘Life’ category

“I’m ba-ack!”

August 20, 2011

Wow, I’ve been MIA the last few weeks. Not that many people noticed, but I feel weird not having blogged for so long. So here I am, bright and early on a Saturday, ready to share my experiences from the last few weeks.

A few weekends ago I met up with some college roommates in Ocean City, Maryland, and we had a blast relaxing at the beach, going out for dinner and drinks and catching up. Here’s a picture of us at Liquid Assets, a bistro and package store with an awesome menu.

We started off the evening with martinis, shared a decadent cheese plate and enjoyed our delicious main courses. I got garlic chicken with roasted tomatoes, onions, fingerling potatoes, Benton’s bacon, spinach and herbs. One of my friends ordered the open faced slow braised Carolina pork BBQ with chipotle coleslaw and thick cut fries, and the other two got seared scallops risotto with roasted garlic and shallots, peas, mushrooms, fresh herbs and grana padano.

My garlic roasted chicken

The pork BBQ

The seared scallops risotto

The weekend following our Ocean City Extravaganza was a busy one as well. Jim and I hosted some friends, went to a Red Sox game and attended a two-day marriage prep class. The Red Sox game was a blast — thanks to our friend, Candace, we managed to get second-row seats!

Our view of the park

Unfortunately, the Red Sox did not win this game (and what’s worse is they lost to the Yankees), but we still had a great time. We enjoyed watching Dustin Pedroia do his little hop move before fielding the ball, making fun of Candace for her “crush” on Josh Reddick (I put crush in quotes because the rest of us sort of invented it) and going out after the game.

The marriage prep class was quite an experience. Due to a friend’s recommendation, we attended the one at the Espousal Retreat House in Waltham (completing a “Pre-Cana” marriage course is a requirement for a Catholic wedding, which we’re having). We showed up on Saturday to discover that 75 other couples in the greater Boston area were doing the same thing. Apparently, this was a record number. We spent the next couple of days together, listening to married couples share their marriage experiences and insights, receiving advice from a priest who’s worked with hundreds of married couples and discussing different aspects of marriage with out significant other.

The Espousal Retreat House in Waltham

In fact, they had each us one us complete forms devoted to specific topics, and then discuss our answers privately with our fiance (or fiancee). Topics ranged from finances to goals to religion. It was helpful to discuss those taboo topics you always try to avoid but really should confront. My fiance and I learned a few things about one another, but were pretty happy must of the subjects we’d already addressed (and were familiar with the other person’s perspective on).

The big theme of the weekend was: COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SPOUSE. Even if you have an issue with another person (say, a friend of the family), you should always be willing to discuss your concerns with your husband or wife. Because you are a team and that person is there to help you out. They will feel validated knowing you trust them with your thoughts, and you’ll end up with a constant source of support and encouragement.

Last weekend my fiance and I headed to Syracuse, NY to take care of more wedding planning. We met with our priest for the first time, picked out the church readings and decided on the layout of the reception space. Also, my fiance designed wedding programs using his fine-tuned Excel skills. I was so proud of him. I had spent hours trying to figure out how to format Microsoft Word properly for a program. And then he goes ahead and whips up an awesome, perfectly formatted program on Excel in no time! I really think he should market his wedding program making skills!

Not only have I been so busy the last few weekends, but it seems like nearly every weeknight I’ve had some event to celebrate. For example, it was my sister’s 29th birthday on Wednesday (we had an awesome tapas meal at Solea in Waltham), my friend Bridget’s going away dinner on Tuesday, and my 3-year anniversary on August 10.

I love this card my fiance gave me for our anniversary

Finally, I feel like I can relax. I was so tired from all the recent happenings last night, that I went to bed at 8:30 (yup, on a Friday night). But now it’s 7 a.m. on a Saturday, I’ve already had my coffee and Stella D’oro almond toasts, and I’m feeling good! I’m really looking forward to this weekend — my only plan is to attend the Futures at Fenway doubleheader. Actually, I have one other plan as well: to celebrate my fiance’s acceptance into his graduate school program of choice! He’ll be attending Northeastern for political science starting in three weeks– yeah!!!

Make the most of the present

June 24, 2011

Have you ever not pursued a friendship because the person was leaving town in a few weeks? Or not been especially nice to someone because you thought you’d never see them again? I’ve certainly been guilty of these things, but the older I get the more I realize these are big mistakes. Life has a way of repeating itself.  I mean, things don’t happen the same exact way twice (obviously). But elements of your past return in ways you’d never expect them to. For instance:

  • I knew a girl for just a couple days in France, but a couple years later unexpectedly drove her 10 hours to a wedding in Indiana (and 10 hours back).
  • I met a guy for just a few hours in Boston, but ended up going out with him 10 years later (and getting engaged).
  • A friend I briefly studied abroad with had me in her wedding eight years later and I’m going to have her in my wedding in September.
  • A town official I covered for a daily newspaper gave me French translation work several years later.

These are just a few of the many examples of people coming back into my life. I’ve been thinking about this lately because a new friend of mine (from my French conversation group) is moving to California in a month or so. It’s sad she’ll be leaving but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make the most of being her friend for the next month. We might end up in the same place at another point in our lives, and even if we don’t, it’s still worth hanging out.

You never know what might happen tomorrow (you could get struck by a lightning bolt and die), so you need to make the most of the present. Enjoy people while they’re with you, and don’t worry about whether or not you’ll see them tomorrow.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/kicks01/4795408812

What if my wedding stinks?

June 12, 2011

What if she shows up at my wedding?

I had a horrible dream last night. I dreamt that my wedding (which is scheduled for Sept. 17) really stunk. The DJ couldn’t get people to dance (in fact, he wasn’t even playing music), guests were leaving extremely early, and for some reason I plunged into a swimming pool, ruining my dress, hair and makeup.

I’m actually not too surprised I had this terrible dream. Pretty much since January, when I got engaged, I’ve worried about the wedding. Mainly, I’ve feared that no one will show up. I know this is an irrational fear. Obviously some people will show up. But I’m still worried that a ton of people won’t end up coming. Whenever I have a party I feel this way. I felt the same way before my 29th b’day party and the same way before my housewarming party in November. And both times a lot of people came.

So why am I so afraid? Maybe it’s because recently several people told me they can’t come. And I imagine there are many more in that boat, but for whatever reason haven’t told me yet. I am inviting people from all over the country (and even from other countries), and I’m afraid the long distance will keep them from making the trip. A number of people haven’t acknowledged they received the save the dates, so I feel those people don’t intend to come.

I wish I could stop freaking out. A bunch of people have said they’ll be there. And I wish I could stop worrying about whether they’ll enjoy themselves. My parents are doing so many things to make sure the wedding goes smoothly. I just always assume the worst. I guess then I’m not disappointed. But it’s certainly a stressful experience to assume the worst. You worry a lot, and worrying is not good for the soul!

Friend or coworker

May 30, 2011

I recently came across this blog post on whether your coworkers are just your coworkers or also your friends. It was actually published on my new company’s blog back in 2008. I found the article extremely interesting. I liked how the author personalized the topic by describing her relationship with her coworkers. Here’s an excerpt:

Being 24 years old, living in a city, and having come from a company full of 45 year old financial consultants I thought to myself ‘self, you are going to work with a bunch of cool 20 somethings and drink beers with them, and hang out, and be friends.’ Right, totally. So after a few months, I found myself enjoying this office, these 20 somethings, and the general fun that goes along with hanging out with your co-workers. The problem then becomes, are these people friends? Or are they coworkers?

She goes on to wonder if you can hang out with coworkers in a bar or restaurant (saying all the things friends say to one another in bars and restaurants), and then have a totally professional relationship with them while at work. I’ve sometimes grappled with this question. I like how the author went on to ask her CEO his opinion, and I like even more his response:

“…in your 20’s the people you work with can be very much part of your social network, you spend a ton of time together, usually share similar interests, and are forced in to close quarters. After 29, all bets are off – your life changes, you get married, have kids, then you spend less time worrying about making friends at work and more about managing the friendships you already have [or wondering why you have no friends].”

I really identify with these thoughts. For much of my 20s I spent lots of my free time with coworkers. I mean, it’s really easy to just head over to a bar or restaurant after work with your colleagues, especially if you work downtown. You all have a TON to talk about, as you spend so much time together every day. You can gossip about a coworker who’s not there, discuss your thoughts on a new work policy, or exchange opinions on the company’s evolution.

Now that I’m approaching 30, however, I find myself spending less time with coworkers and more time with friends I already have. Maybe that’s because I’m more settled than I was before (I’m engaged, don’t have plans to move, etc.), and have built a more balanced, multifaceted life.

To me it makes more sense to cultivate a wide variety of friendships than to largely hang out with coworkers. As you get older, you realize that friends are more than just who you are currently spending time with. They are the people you’ll continue to spend time with (or keep in touch with).

Often coworkers are just people you happen to be with at the moment, not people you’ll maintain relationships with after leaving the company. So your time is better spent figuring out who your friends are, in all realms of life, and spending time with those people.

This has been a great year

May 22, 2011

My fiance in our new apartment

One of my college roommates recently told me that 2011 has really been my year. I would say that’s correct, but also that the whole last year has been my year. Since turning 29 in June, I’ve moved in to an awesome apartment, gotten engaged, and become involved with copywriting– a field I truly enjoy. I have written copy for WordStream (a search marketing company) and FlipKey (a vacation rental property website), and last week I started a copywriting position with BzzAgent (a social marketing company). So far I love the new gig! I feel so lucky to have experienced such a great year, and am motivated to spread my good fortune in any way that I can.

When tragedy strikes, look for the silver lining

March 23, 2011

Imagine– you’ve just spent an amazing vacation full of fun, carefree living, tantalizing conversation, and exploration. While you’re sad to be headed back home, the joy of a week well spent overpowers any feelings of longing or nostalgia.

You encounter some road bumps on the way home (mostly related to your car’s functioning), but none of them compare to what’s about to happen. You wake up from a heavy night of sleep, walk into the hotel parking lot, and discover your car has been broken into.

Not only was the driver’s side window smashed, but practically half of the valuable possessions to your name were taken. More than $1,500 worth of stuff. The worst part is you could have prevented the crime. If you had been sure to remove all the valuables from view, the perpetrator probably wouldn’t have targeted your car  in the first place.

The combination of sadness your vacation is over, anger your car was burglarized, and regret you didn’t do the right thing can be a lot to handle.

Luckily, right after the incident I met a nice girl from Baltimore who cheered me up. Her philosophy is that the burglary was a sign from above. It’s a higher power trying to help me out in some way. Maybe he or she is telling me to be more careful in my life so that something worse doesn’t happen. Or that possessions aren’t everything.

In the last few days I’ve been mourning the “passing” of my stolen items. The retro Syracuse Chiefs shirt my fiance bought me last summer, the heart-shaped measuring spoons he just purchased because our measuring spoons are so mismatched, all the music from my time in France (where will I find all of these songs? Some are so obscure…), a bathing suit that fit me just right, my trusty GPS, my whimsical earrings from Kittery, Maine, and the list goes on.

Syracuse Chiefs shirt that was stolen

The objects I miss the most are the ones with sentimental value. Even if I am able to recoup some insurance money for the stolen items, there are many that can’t be replaced. So maybe the silver lining I must take away from this experience is that even objects with sentimental value aren’t as important as being healthy, having quality relationships, learning from our mistakes, and other facets of life. I must try to remind myself of this when I start missing that hair clip I’ve had since eighth grade.

Small-town bars

March 5, 2011


When I was living in a country town in upstate New York, there were many of those bars where everyone knows your name. You walk into the establishment, and nearly everyone looks straight up and says “Hey Christine!” (or whatever your name may be).

You walk around, saying “hi” to everyone; hoping you’ll avoid that one guy who gives you a hard time each time you come in (you know, he tries to hug you when you don’t want a hug or asks why you don’t want to go hunting with him). You buy a drink for an incredibly cheap price (or someone buys it for you), and then shoot the breeze with the regulars.

In my upstate New York town, there were a couple of these establishments I’d frequent more than others. I remember going to the first one; being marked by the frequency with which country music was played. Single men in their 40s and 50s would be listening to a sad country tune about an unrequited love while practically crying into their Bud or Michelob lights.

I made the mistake of playing a techno song on the jukebox one evening. “What the H#@& is this?!?!?” several Carhartt-clad men shouted in unison. I looked up, realizing the error of my ways. This was NOT the place to get my techno music fix. We let the song play, however, as several regulars lined up to play their next sappy country ballad.

One night at this bar I had some especially great conversations. I don’t remember what was said exactly, but I do remember one boat salesman saying he had to play me a couple of his favorite songs. This first one will always remind me of my time in this insular yet charmingly simple country town.

I remember that whenever the chorus played, this guy would close his eyes, groove his head to the beat, and belt out the words. He’d passionately utter:

I wake up and tear drops
They fall down like rain
I put on that old song we danced to and then
I head off to my job
Guess not much has changed

Punch the clock
Head for home
Check the phone, just in case
Go to bed
Dream of you
That’s what I’m doing these days

The other song was a little gentler/more meaningful in my opinion. I’m unable to post the YouTube video to this page, so I’ll just link to it. I remember thinking it was nice that this rustic outdoorsman enjoyed such a sweet song (it’s about a love between a father and son).

At the other bar, you’d run into all sort of important people in town: police officers, lawyers, town board members, etc. Initially they knew you (well me and some of my friends at least) as the journalists who interviewed them from time to time. But then, after seeing them there a few times, you were more like a friend. Eventually you barely talked about what you did for a career. Instead, you’d join them in cheering for the Green Bay Packers, playing some darts, or discussing the upcoming dairy parade.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/3841713630

What we can learn from the French

February 25, 2011

What we can learn from the French

It’s been seven years since I last lived in France, but I picked up on a lot while I was there. Plus, I’ve visited France a few times since 2004. I know you can’t clump everyone together and say they’re all one particular way. But you can point out things you noticed about many of the people you encountered.

  • The French know how to eat healthily.

This has been written about a lot (e.g. French Women Don’t Get Fat) so I’ll stick to what I observed personally. I noticed that French people (in general):

  • Don’t snack between meals (and when they snack they just have a cookie or a few pieces of chocolate)
  • Eat big lunches and relatively small dinners (That way, they have something to look forward to during the work day AND don’t go to bed on a full stomach.)
  • Have small breakfasts with coffee (Because they have big lunches, they don’t need a huge breakfast. And, coffee helps suppress your hunger).
  • Drink water with their meals (much healthier than soda, of course)
  • Eat lots of vegetables
  • Eat a wide variety of foods (For example, they don’t just eat chicken and beef. They eat chicken, beef, ham, pork, duck, rabbit, horse, fish, bull, boar, guinea fowl, oysters, mussels, shrimp, sea urchins, etc.).
  • Finish most meals with a dairy item (yogurt or cheese) and a piece of fruit
  • Take their time eating

I think all of these habits are good for you.

  • The French exercise less than we do.

But, because they eat healthily they don’t really need to exercise. I mean, their daily activities (walking, doing chores, etc.) are enough for them to get their daily dose of movement. Maybe we should follow their lead given this recent Wall Street Journal article.

  • The French take time to cook.

Obviously, this point relates to the first point I made. But I will expand on it a little here. Most of the French people I encountered just go out to eat for special occasions. The rest of the time they make their own meals. This allows them to control what goes into their bodies, save money, and go out to nicer places when they do go out. They also have a fair amount of dinner parties; those provide a great opportunity to see their friends and share their favorite recipes.

  • The French are polite.

OK, maybe this is a real stretch. And maybe their politeness often masks their true feelings. But frequently I observed French people saying (or doing) the right thing at the right time. Say your brother-in-law just died, for example. The next time they saw you they’d start off the interaction with a “Oh, I’m so sorry about your brother.” Or when they are invited to a dinner party they bring along a gift. While these might seem like obvious things to do, I’ve noticed this type of behavior isn’t always practiced here (and yes, I’m guilty of not being polite as well).

  • The French are experts in their fields.

In France, it’s really hard to get into a particular field when your degree is in something else. So, you’re forced to find a job in your area of expertise. While this certainly limits you choices, it helps ensure you’re good at your profession (or at least better at it than your average bear). Here, you might just get a sales job because you’re deemed friendly. But you don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of how to be an effective salesperson.

  • The French are into equality.

I’ll always remember this one particular experience I had while teaching English in France. I was in a fifth-grade classroom, quizzing the children on their knowledge of animal vocabulary. One of the students– Yoan (pronounced “Yo-on”)– was answering practically every question correctly. Each time I interrogated the pupils, his arm would shoot up in the air. Sometimes no one else would raise their hand, so I had to pick him. He’d get the answer right, and I’d congratulate him.

Well the class’s main teacher (a French woman) was not a fan of Yoan’s behavior. Whereas I viewed his ability and willingness to answer the questions as a positive thing, she viewed it as a horrible thing. She started screaming at him, saying it was not his place to answer so many questions. The others deserved a chance, she said, adding that he couldn’t participate any more. While most Americans would consider her reaction unfair or harsh (I think), it actually worked. Once he stopped raising his hand, the other students began participating in the exercise.

  • The French are fashionable.

They don’t necessarily have many clothes, but they know how to pick out items that fit them right. Sometimes this means spending more money on individual garments, but overall they might even spend less than your average American.

In a future post, I will write about what the French can learn from Americans.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/kalleboo/2036413105

Some thoughts on how the Internet has shaped my life

February 15, 2011

It’s so weird to think that the Internet didn’t exist (at least on a mass scale) when my friends and I were born. With the onset of this technology, we’ve truly witnessed a revolution in how people get information and communicate. Facebook posts, Twitter updates, and Google searches have become second nature for many people. Today I was thinking about the excitement with which I first greeted the Internet. I remember in ninth grade my parents bought America Online for my sister and I to use.

America Online guy

I had heard about this novel World Wide Web idea, and even had some friends who used the Prodigy online service provider (including my sixth-grade crush who used it to communicate with another girl in our class…I was so jealous of this chica!). I installed the AOL CD-ROM, created my username (I can’t remember the first one but know that at one point it was “Amalthea66.” Amalthea after the “Last Unicorn” character, and 66 because my favorite number was 6.), filled out my profile, and started visiting chat rooms. To me, chat rooms were the coolest thing about the Internet.

I remember visiting some rooms that were game-based (e.g. users played anagrams together), others specifically for teenagers, and others promoting “general conversation.” Each time, I had a blast. I would ask people where they lived, what they did for fun, and whether they had siblings. Not only did I think it was awesome you could converse with multiple people simultaneously, and meet people from all over the country, but I also liked how the Internet made everyone equal. It didn’t matter what you looked like, what you had done in the past, or whether you were shy in real life. You started each conversation with a blank slate. (more…)

Resolution: Use Facebook less

January 3, 2011

resolution-is-to-use-facebook-less

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to use Facebook less. I’m sort of addicted to it, so this will be tough. I’ve decided I’d just like to use it for keeping in touch with people whose emails addresses I don’t have, occasionally posting photos, and seeing messages or posts friends have tagged me in (I receive an email each time this happens so I don’t have to sign in to Facebook to check on this).

I’ve basically determined that Facebook is a huge time waster (at least in my case). To facilitate my resolution I’ve signed myself out of Facebook. By making it harder to access Facebook, I’m hoping this keeps me from using it. We’ll see! I will update you on my efforts! For some reason writing down that I will do this gives me more of an incentive to follow through with it.


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