Sunday, June 28, 2009

Springtime in New York...and Boston...and DC.

I'm finally getting around to posting pictures and stories from my trip back East in May!

Highlights of the trip:

* Chillin' with Sarah (Rachel's friend) in Tribeca. I've never spent much time in lower Manhattan, so it was cool to see everything down there. We ate sushi in Battery Park and had a lovely view of the Statue of Liberty. She showed us some of the cool little out-of-the-way spots that give New York its charm.

* Running to make it to Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Rachel and I didn't realize how late it had gotten while we were primping in the hotel room, so we had the option of trying to take three trains at 6:45pm or hoofing it. We RAN. When we arrived at the theater, our beautification efforts were all for naught. But we made it. And it was splendid! I do have to say that I was a little disappointed in Christine's singing voice, but the rest of the show was so breath-taking. There were parts where I was just in awe at how amazing it was. I grew up listening to and playing on the piano the music from the show, so it was like a culmination of all the memories and associations I've had as I watched the story unfold on a stage on Broadway.

* The Gossip Girl tour Lacy told me about. We saw a lot of the sites from the first season of the show, including Pulitzer Fountain, Bumble and Bumble salon (I'd already fallen in love with their products, so I bought some...saves me a little shipping cost anyway, right?), Henry Bendel's, the mezzanine in Grand Central Station, the bridge on the pond in Central Park. Actually, the entire time we were in the city, we kept finding things we'd seen or heard about on television or movies. Either NYC is the location for an alarmlingly large number of sets or we watch an alarming amount of television. I'm willing to wager that it's a little from column A, a little from column B...

* All of the food. Wow, that place is a bounty of food...and basically anything you could ever want. We tried Junior's cheesecake (two thumbs WAY up! I highly recommend it, if you ever go to New York!), a secret place (yes, behind a curtain!) in the Parker Meridien hotel that was a hole in the wall but served fabulous burgers, a pizza we made last for four meals (yikes...I know...), dessert upon dessert...vacation is a great time to throw any sort of decent eating practices out the window.

* Going to the Manhattan temple. I got to go do a session; there were a grand total of 7 of us. And Glenn Beck and his wife were there. I actually haven't really heard anything he's said regarding politics, so I am going to remain unbiased. All I know is that he was there...and so was I. I should have asked him to sign my temple bag (here's where I would hold up the sign that says 'Sarcasm' case you didn't catch that...). Anyhow, the temple is SO quiet in the middle of all the hubbub of the city. It was kind of eerie coming in off the street and having it be so peaceful.

* The Brooklyn Bridge at night. We ventured out kind of late and saw all the lights, the view of the city, and the less-than-safe (for two stupidly silly girls from Utah) burrough of Brooklyn. In every picture we tried to get, Rachel couldn't keep her eyes open. Don't worry, I saved them all. :)

* The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love museums...I don't know why, but I find them fascinating. It's like I get to experience these small glimpses of history in these little blips that end up sitting in the halls of the museum. I guess I just have to trust the curators that the things they've procured are really worth the look. We saw some great Impressionist paintings, an Egyptian temple, the costume exhibit, and much more. By no means did we see it all, but the things we experienced were worth the trip to the museum.

* Wandering around Little Italy, trying to find the bakery I found there a couple years ago that served some of the best cannolis ever. It was kind of drizzly, and we were going off the little map in the book I had...come on, isn't there some sort of page in those things that has "this bakery HERE has that cannoli you're looking for..."? I kept saying, "We ate at a little Italian restaurant on a road entirely made up of restaurants, then we went around the corner, and the bakery was THERE." So we searched for the "restaurant road" and couldn't find it. Little Italy proved to not be so "little." And finding addresses in New York is not quite as simplistic as it is in Salt Lake. Through a little cell phone Google finagling and Sarah's help, we found the place. It's called Ferrara. Now you can find it, too!

* Shopping! I don't think I need to reiterate how spectacular I think H&M is...and they have a HUGE one in NYC, so you can bet I'd go. Oh yes...and spent way too much. Cute clothes are worth it, though. And while I can't shop for hours and hours upon end, it was so fun to go to the Macy's on 34th Street and see what a real department store looks like. And how busy it can get on a Saturday afternoon...

* Riding the metro and discovering the ins and outs of transfers and routes. Our first day in the city, we rode the air train to the Howard Beach station, and then took the metro into the city. That is a ghetto's got orange and yellow seats like it's from the 70s. We plunked down after a long red-eye flight, complete with our bags and looking like tourists. Luckily, it was a Saturday morning, and it was about 7:00 am, so it wasn't too crowded. That's probably a good thing because across the aisle from us, there was a seat with something under it. I'd like to think it was a strawberry shake someone had spilled, but it was probably vomit. This is horrible...but my favorite thing was that at each stop, some unassuming person would get on, look at the seat, be disgusted and ultimately end up sitting somewhere far away from the mess. One guy wasn't paying that close of attention until he looked down a couple stops later and saw that his foot was on the outskirts of the puddle. He jumped up, horrified, and found another seat a little ways down. For the next ten minutes, we quietly giggled at the sight of him trying to get whatever it was off his shoe. Blech. Throughout our stay, though, we discovered the best places to switch trains, where each line ran, and how to differentiate between a local train and an express one. That NYC knows their public transportation because the system was very user-friendly. At one point when we were so exhausted from all the walking we had been doing, we decided to take a little break at Jamba Juice and then continue on our way to finding our stop a few blocks down. We noticed there was a stop on a different line just right by where we were, so we looked it up on our map, made a game plan, and we were on our way. You really can get basically anywhere from anywhere in that city.

* Getting to see Shannon for the first time since she got married last summer! She came and picked me up at the airport, and it was just like old times. Some of the things she would say were followed by, "Oh, I'm such an awful human being!" to which I replied, "Shan, that's why we're friends!" And really, sometimes you just need someone you can trust to vent with. I loved her's and Dave's apartment they've gotten there, so New England charming! They were so kind to let me stay in their extra room, even with everything else that was going coming and going, friends coming and going...

* More shopping! I really do hit H&M in every city, and Shannon was excited to come with me and try on some things of her own. We found some incredibly cute things, and resistance was futile.

* All of the fun, historic buildings. Being from Utah, most things are 100 years old...maybe 150. If you're lucky. So going to New England meant seeing some things that had seen the light of day back in the 17th century, even. We did the Freedom Trail there, a little walk that takes you around to most of the Revolutionary sites. I got to see the graveyard where some of the founding fathers were buried, the Old North Church, Paul Revere's home, and so much more!

* More food! I'm telling you, I ate a LOT while I was gone, and if I'm going to eat something, it's gonna be good. That's when word-of-mouth comes into play and I can see and try the best places for things. We ate at Legal Seafoods, and it was mouthwatering! They had some of the best clam chowder there; it's the same clam chowder they serve at the Presidential inaugurations. And our waiter looked a bit like John Stewart, just not as funny or political or charming... Shannon also showed me this little bakery that had awesome chocolate chip cannolis. Oh heaven...

* Feeling a little closer to the Boston Red Sox. I have friends and family members who are quite devoted to the team, so I found it only fitting to check out Green Monstah (the stadium) on Yawkee Way. Unfortunately they weren't playing a game the night I was in town. Not like I could have gotten tickets anyway...

* Seeing all of the universities, including Northeastern University, where Shannon works. It's still a little strange to me that I'm supposed to be a grown-up, so seeing my friend's office at a university was pretty neat. Makes me think (but probably only think) about going to grad school and being as cool as her. It's totally her element though, and it was really fun seeing her so excited and passionate about something. Then we walked back home through Cambridge and checked out the Harvard campus. It doesn't seem so scary or intimidating when you think, "Huh...I have a college degree already." I also couldn't stop thinking about the Gilmore Girls episode where Rory and Lorelai go check out the campus. Ivy League, Schmivy League. You people aren't anything overly special. :) We'll let them think they are...

* Seeing my sister, Laura, and her family. Her husband Matt was kind enough to come out in the middle of the night (our flight was delayed...we resorted to picture scavenger hunting at the airport...which led to finding a bunch of missionaries on their way home...) to come pick us up. They were so accomodating the entire time we were there...shuttling us around to the things we wanted to see--even if it meant sitting in Georgetown traffic forever--taking us out to eat, finding a way for us all to go to the temple. And my nephews are always good for a laugh. I cracked up every time one of them yelled out, "There's a , and it's out my window!" How do kids remember all these crazy things?!

* We'd already been to D.C. a couple times before, so we'd seen most of the sites and museums. We decided to go a little off the beaten path and check out some other things like Gaulladet University, a deaf university. It just so happened that graduation was that day, so we got to see the processional leaving...and it was really quiet! The campus was small, but it was very interesting to see and hear about some of the advances in ASL and the deaf community. One of our nephews was very intrigued by the bronzed hands portraying each of the letters of the alphabet. For the rest of the day, he would make a shape with his hand and say, "What's this?"

* We got to go to the Washington DC temple. I'd seen it a few times before, and it is huge and radiant, but it was neat to go inside and be a part of it.

* H&M. Need I say more?

* There was a big Relief Society activity that we attended with Laura while we were there. We learned how to make fudge out of pinto beans (don't knock it 'til you try it!), how to decorate our houses, how to Latin dance, and how to personalize our emergency preparedness kits. It's fun to see the church around the world and get to see how it really is always about kindness, friendship, and the gospel.

And now what you're really been waiting for: the pictures...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


What have you been doing lately to keep your sanity?
Cranking my iPod and listening to it on shuffle so I don't have to decide which album strikes my fancy at any given moment.

How much work have you wanted to do today?
Absolutely none. But I sucked it up and did some. I feel somewhat accomplished.

Update on the family?
I got to spend last weekend with my entire immediate family (minus one bro-in-law). We camped, geocached, Iron Chef-ed, Guitar Hero-ed, slept, ate a LOT, was good to hang out with them all. Found out that my younger sister, Natalie, is pregnant and due February 4th. Also found out that my bro-in-law who's been job hunting for the last nine months finally found a position! My younger brother, Matt, is leaving on his mission to Puerto Rico in a couple weeks. Lots of things are happening...

Are you having any luck finding renters for your place in Provo?
Some. A couple girls are coming by in the next few days. Most people aren't looking for contracts now...I've given up hope that we'll find someone for June or July, so onward to August and so forth!

What food have you been eating these days?
My dinner for the past two nights has been cheese quesadillas...because I'm too lazy to cook for one person, and they're easy--plus, not many dishes to clean up!

Name a few things that make you feel happy/accomplished that have happened in the past little while.
* I got my bathroom unpacked!
* I got signed up for health insurance!
* I've been walking two miles a day!

How have you been sleeping?
I have a love hate relationship with sleep at the moment...I'm still in that strange stage of wait-this-isn't-your-room after moving, and that is less-than-conducive to sleep. I wish I could convince my body that it doesn't need to wake me up at 4:45am to make sure I'm safe and in one piece.

What do you like/hate about living alone?
It's SO quiet! This is good and bad. I like my peace and serenity, but it's also comforting to know that someone else is going to be around at some point. I do, however, love that things are always the way I left them, and I don't have to feel bad about leaving a mess for someone else to handle. I haven't gotten used to the fact that the majority of my friends live 40 miles away and concerted effort has to be made to be with them. The new ward is great,'s only a matter of time before I make new friends. In fact, I got invited to a birthday party this weekend for some of the girls around here.

What's your ultimate motivating factor at this point, right now, today?
I get to finally send an approval notice about a study that's been hounding me for the past three weeks. Burn Notice is on tomorrow night. I get to watch (and mock!) Twilight on Friday with my friends from work. I get my hair trimmed on Saturday. All fabulous things. In the not-so-distant future? 4th of July!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Previously on 'Annie's Life'...

If you'll recall, when I last left off, it was one month ago. Life seems so much simpler back then...well, in some ways. Let's see if I can do a quick catch-up. Here are the events of the last few weeks...I'll try to do them justice.

* I had to evict my tenant for not paying rent. Just a note: if you rent a room from someone, write them a check once a month for their trouble. It says to them, "Hey, thanks for keeping a roof over my head and providing a place for me to sleep at night." If you have the urge to buy hundreds of dollars worth of groceries but you haven't paid your rent yet...RESIST. The landlord would rather have the cash than a bunch of food (that will ultimately end up rotting in the fridge) and other random things purchased in bulk, like toilet paper and laundry detergent. So the hunt is on again...and trying to find renters in a college town that slashes rent rates in the summer is like having it snow on the 4th of July. Let's just say that my first foray into the land of landlording has been less than productive.

* Rachel and I spent nine days living it up in New York City and Washington DC. I also spent a day in Boston with my friend Shannon. All three cities were spectacularly amazing, mostly because of the people we knew there. Rachel's friend Sarah is nannying in NYC, so we got to go see some of her favorite places and do the city from more of an insider's perspective. Then, our sister lives in DC, so we got to see the cute nephews and relax with family. More pictures in a separate post that goes into more details about the trip...

* My car was at the brink of death and now lives again. The week before we left for the East Coast, my Honda's check engine light came on. I figured I could take care if it once I got back, but the car almost died completely on my way home from SLC one night. I was in denial about it while I was on vacation, so once I got back, I had my brother come and trade cars with me. He and my dad (but mostly my brother--go Matt!) changed the fuel filter and spark plugs, and it looks like my car is running smoothly again! I was afraid it was going to be a much bigger problem, but luckily I have mechanics in the family, and they helped me out of a jam.

* I moved! The big city has claimed me. Last weekend, a big bunch of burly guys (and buff girls, too!) came and helped me pick up roots and head up to SLC where I've been working for the past two months. I have mixed feelings about the whole move, considering I left a whole slew of friends down in Utah Valley, but I think this opportunity to meet new people and be on my own will give me a chance to get outside of my comfort zone and grow. Let's face it, it's not that far outside my comfort zone, but enough to make a difference. I will say that I quite enjoy my commute to work now...I walk and take the train, which takes less than 30 minutes instead of my old commute which consisted of driving for 35 minutes, taking two trains for more than an hour and then walking the rest of the way. It's saved me some sleep and sanity, and for that I am quite grateful. Sure, I'm still living out of boxes and finding my way around town, but I'm finding it to be a beneficial change. Today will be my first day at the new ward, so wish me luck... Also, a BIG thank you to everyone who helped me so much. There's no way I would have survived to tell the tale if it hadn't been for some of you!

* The new job is getting easier! Lacy says I've picked it up quickly, but I think she's just being too nice...although instead of my plaintive cries for help coming every thirty seconds, I've gotten it down to about once a minute now. I sure hope I'm doing it all correctly, because there's a lot of things to remember. I have to keep remembering what my supervisor told me, though: anything you mess up can be fixed--except the catering. NEVER forget to order the food! Well hey, if that's all I've got to remember, I'm sittin' pretty. I've made my way through two board meetings, some angry phone calls, some idiot researchers, and some great office hilarity. I expect it will get easier, but for now, I've got a firm grasp, so chalk one up for me.

Other, less important things:
* Burn Notice started up again! A few girls from work came over to my new digs, and we celebrated with pizza scones, yogurt, and faux-jitos (virgin mojitos). I lost Burn Notice trivia (Lace, I still can't believe you came up with those questions off the top of your head!), but it was a fun night. (And if you don't know what Burn Notice is, shame on you. Go look it up here:

* I purchased new couches. I've been looking for a good set for a LONG time (probably over a year now...), and since I didn't want to live without furniture, I bought a lovely black microsuede couch and loveseat. I was skeptical about how much I would really like it once I got it home, but it's quite nice! (And they came with the pillows I fell in love with at the store!)

* I met a random guy at the temple who chatted it up with me--seriously, I was not the initiator in this circumstance, nor did I perpetuate the lengths to which he went to show some sort of interest. Long story short, I found him online and sent him an email suggesting we get together for lunch or something sometime, but he replied that he is seeing someone right now. Well come on! Don't flirt it up with a girl at the temple if you have no intention of following through. I'm not, it does do a little something for the ego...

Well, now that I'm settling in nicely--and I have Internet at home again!--I plan to be a more frequent blogger. Come on, you know you love reading my incessant ramblings...I'll try to make it worth your while. And if it isn't? Know that for my sanity, it's worth mine.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Flowers, chocolates...promises you don't intend to keep...

It's been ages since my last post...I know you're all just yearning for some blog fodder from my spry fingers. Well, you're going to have to wait a little longer. I promise you, nay SWEAR to you that I will update you all on my whirlwind East Coast adventures, my big move to the big city, everything at the new job, and all the little things in between--like the world's shortest stint as a landlord. And to make this vow of mine to write this all up a little more solid, I'm giving myself a deadline: Sunday. It'll give you a little something to a) look forward to; b) fill up your boring Sunday evening; or c) laugh about. You choose. Until then, watch Burn Notice tonight (season premiere!!) and pray that my Internet at home gets hooked up successfully today...