Shipping Today!

Today I join the ranks of those who ship out holiday presents to family in far-flung locations. To some, this concept is old-hat. These are the folks who may be a bit nervous hearing all the news that abounds about the post being backed up because so many more people are shopping online this year.  I have no point of reference, so I’m just kind of going with it.

Last night I lovingly wrapped gifts for my niece and nephew. I tried to avoid some of the delicate bows and tenuous attachments (I love making present stacks in themes!) that I would normally do when I have full charge of the packages from the time I wrapped them to the time they are delivered by me safely in front of the sitting child. I know the carrier is not exactly going to treat my package (that looks like all other packages) with much TLC. And that’s fair, because I probably wouldn’t either.

Well, no. Full disclosure: I probably would cringe around every corner if I was a package-deliverer-driver. I would love to deliver packages as carefully as they were intended. If a box was labeled fragile, I would likely keep it on my lap. I’m just a careful person. So scratch that earlier sentence, I want a deliverer like me! I’ll pay extra! In addition to speed variances, they should also have service variances such as Usher, Concierge, Mr. McFeely, and Old English Butler. I would like my package convoyed by a fairy godmother, please. How much is that?

mr-mcfeely-website-header-image

Mr. McFeely Style- $24.95 plus tax

Anyway, there aren’t any breakables being shipped this time, I went minimal on the wrapping, the only thing to really worry about is one gift. I got my nephew a Mickey Mouse clubhouse emblem “shield” for his bedroom wall. It’s adorable. It is also a circle. How do you wrap a circle? Well, there are a number of ways, none of which were practical or available to me at this juncture. I could not find a gift box wide enough. I do not want to put it in a gift bag. While kids are still kids I want them to enjoy the ripping of paper and the shaking open of boxes, well the seven-year-old, anyway. They have one small gift bag each this year. I tied up the handles so much that they aren’t going to be able to open them without supervision and some scissors, but they’ll stay closed through shipping, I think.

So, I got crafty wrapping my circle. I had two of those extra-thick sheets of bubble wrap, the kind you get when someone buys you something exceedingly breakable and expensive. I had it saved with all my oddly-shaped or otherwise save-able wrapping accoutrements that I keep year to year. I wrapped one side to side across the shield, and the other top to bottom. I sealed the ends with a big binder clip and half a roll of tape. Then I proceeded to wrap my vaguely square package (heh, heh, hehhhhh) in pink Minnie Mouse paper (sorry, baby boy).

I’m proud to say that the deadline for shipping ground to arrive by December 24th is Tuesday the fifteenth, but here it is Sunday morning the thirteenth, and I am ready to go. It may take me half the afternoon to work out which shipping box to purchase, and how to pack it all just so, but I’m ready to see what’s what. My fear is that when I find a box wide enough to encapsulate the shield, it is going to also be very tall and very long, and, naturally, very expensive. Plus, with all that extra room, the other gifts will be swimming around in there because every other item I’m shipping is quite small and compact.

Well, I’m going to get after this, and hope for the best. I will be there at the other end to see this package opened, because I don’t think it will be so early that my sister can add these gifts to those under the tree. They will probably arrive on the promised Christmas Eve, in which case, I told her not to open the box. I’ll open it Christmas Morning, inspect for damages, create individual piles and deliver them elf-style to the kids like I do every year.

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Ticket to Fly

So, they really make you pay a steep price for not being exceedingly proactive, huh?

This year I’m thankful that I WAS proactive and booked our Christmas trip to Florida at the end of September. My sister has been checking flights for some more of the extended family and they have just been going up and up and up.

I just plugged in our flights this morning (that are still available, btw) and it seems that very few people want to fly at 5:55 on Christmas morning, and come back at the same time on the following Monday. Be that as it may, each ticket costs about $150 more than we paid. Phew!

I have this jaded, bitter attitude when it comes to things like this. There are X number of tickets available, the airlines are going to charge you some range between bare minimum and insane maximum for the privilege of traveling, and it’s basically first come, first served. I’m into that. The earlier you get your s#&% together, the less you will have to pay. It’s the same concept, I think, as having a specific line in the store for people who are better-prepared. << This should be a thing.

However, I could easily have fallen into the other, more last-minute, less prepared, annoying-people-on-the-plane-category. There were a number of theories and plans being bandied about when we were planning out Christmas, and by default, Thanksgiving. I could have waited a few weeks, sure. Then I would have been bemoaning the fact that I could have done this cheaper.

Speaking of doing it cheaper, I refused to pay up front for a checked bag. I was already charging enough money for these tickets, and their associated fees and taxes, and I wasn’t going to promise another penny. Knowing that my road to ruin is paved with good intentions, I figured if it came down to it on the day, we would just pay the $25 or whatever for one checked bag. But the more I think about it… we may just forgo this completely. We may not need it. No jinxes!

I overpack.

Always.

Confession of an over-packer: I’ve brought a small suitcase instead just stowing an extra outfit in the car for a one-night-stay-over for a concert. I can’t help it.

I am NOT a high-maintenance mitten at all. I wear cotton clothing, lots of t-shirts and jeans, I don’t own an iron or a hairdryer. I am always warm, so none of my clothes are very bulky. A pair of jeans is about the bulkiest thing I own, and I usually wear a pair on the flight, so don’t need to pack them. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, just lipstick and eyeliner. I don’t have a gajillion hair products, or shoes, or I don’t know what-all those “gloves” (read “other women”) bring on a trip.

I’m sure my sister can provide us with toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and conditioner. I’m sure we’ll have clean pillowcases and hangers and all the stuff I normally (abnormally?) bring in my suitcase so that I don’t have to use what the hotel is trying to pass off as clean. I’m sure I can steal a twisty hair towel from my sister or niece, there will be no need for my emergency kit, and there will be plentiful snacks in the house.

So, we are flying on Christmas morning. We will both be wearing jeans and jackets. Pretty much exactly what we’ll be wearing home on Monday morning. When we arrive on Friday, we’ll probably change into comfies (I need to look into trademarking that), and that takes care of 2 days of our not-quite-4-day trip. We need clothes for Saturday and Sunday, when we go visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Simpsons, The Minions, and the rest of the Universal Studios gang. I promise another post or 7 on that topic.

Therefore, I can carry a backpack with our clothes, deodorants, toothbrushes, and a book. The necessities. John’s backpack will have our electronic accoutrements, maybe a gift or two, and flip-flops. Done!

Amazon, supplemented by my own package through the U.S. postal service (going to try to just do one) will take care of getting our presents for the kiddos under their tree ahead of time. We will exchange gifts with my parents beforehand, they are going before us and will leave about when we do. The other adults are all buying each other whatever we want from our forays into the theme park as our Christmas gifts. Done and Done!

I’m getting excited! Lists, lists and more lists! It’s the holiday season!

MittenGirl Gives a Speech (and gets a new mitten!)

So, I love my new job. Well, I love my old company and being back is fantastic. I love the people in the department I’m working with now, even though the work itself isn’t really what I do. Or ever have done. But hey, I’m taking a whole lot of good, with a little bit of not-so-good and I’m rolling with it.

We were told that we would have to give speeches on a topic picked out of a hat for the upcoming special “Everyday Superheroes” week. It is a week in which we are tested, toasted, fed constantly and celebrated each workday. It was really fun. Exhausting, but fun. We played all sorts of games, had an Ice Cream social, drinks, food, another group sent us Super Hero cookies… Just lots and lots of stuff. Still being the new girl I put more into it emotionally, you feel like you have to be more “on” than others who are seriously comfortable with their friends and their position among them. I’m tired! Yet, it’s 8:32 on Saturday morning, I’ve been awake for an hour trying to go back to sleep. Since the man is sleeping, the computer is free and I’m blogging. Yay!

So, being a writer and being funny (I hope you agree) and sharing jokes with my new co-workers for the past month, I didn’t feel anxious about writing up a two-minute talk on my easy topic. The idea was to pick an acronym that we all use and may not actually know what it means, who it means, what the letters stand for, etc. Mine was easy, it’s about people that we work with, the people who gave us this hat-full of speech ideas in the first place. I interviewed them, and got a pretty good grasp of it, and knew that I would be presenting the last speech on the last day, so I would have time to hear what everyone else did.

Most gave a 2-minute or so reading of facts. A few went all out. Costumes, props, dancing, you name it. I said, okay, I’m going to go all out, too. I had a few ideas percolating and the speech was being formed in my head as I drove back and forth over the past number of days.

The night before my speech, we had an off-site happy hour. I started to feel even more sure that I should give a funny speech, and that I’m getting more comfortable with my new peeps by the minute. I had planned to stop at the mall, now that I was on the correct road to do so, and make a return at Old Navy.

On line at the store, I saw an integrated ice-scraper waterproof mitten. My topic is Business integration. This mitten is the key to my speech. Plus, it’s a mitten. Of course Mittengirl wants an ice-scraping mitten!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe I want the whole crate of them!

Happily, it just so happens that one of our supervisors is a woman from England. Her name is Elizabeth. Could you tell where this is going? She speaks with a wonderful accent, and I am so definitely going to call upon Elizabeth of England to “knight” the integrators with “Ye Olde Navy Mitten of Integration”!!!! I asked her to participate beforehand and she mentioned that she happened to be wearing her half-crown today and I am certainly the most recent in a long, long line of people to give her this persona.

I had a bunch of jokes in my speech. I “integrated” some of the games we played into the proceedings. When I took the mitten from the bag, the audience started cheering. I went on for a bit, imagining aloud the meeting in which the clothing-store executives decided to manufacture this item, and what the Business Integrator’s role would have been in the situation. I had a lot of fun with it, made fun of stodgy executives, bashed the marketing folks (as an ex-marketeer, I’m allowed!), and this earned me a lot of laughs. When I announced that we were about to give certificates to the integrators and knight them with the mitten, we were at a dull roar. By the time each of the three were inducted and received the certificate with their superhero name and title that I crafted in Microsoft Word, they were clapping. I announced with a little curtsy that this wraps up our presentations and we are joining them to their regularly-scheduled program, but I was now being drowned out by all the hootin’, hollerin’, and squealing! Once I put my reading material (wrinkled from being clutched so hard) down on the table, I had to turn around and face the wall, I was too embarrassed to look at them!

This exercise, we had been told from the beginning, was a good way to enhance our development. Soon, some of our department is expected to appear at customer-facing meetings and give speeches and be comfortable. They wanted us to practice in front of our work “family”. I gave a funny speech that they were still talking about and congratulating me for hours later. However, I looked down at my paper the whole time. Whenever I’ve given a speech or presented anything in the past, I’ve always looked hard at my material, whether it be paper in front of me, or a slideshow on the screen. I’d look at people for a beat or two, then go right back to staring at the words until they started to blur.

I’m always better writing on deadline. That speech was “made” by seeing and purchasing that mitten. So, I spent most of the workday yesterday writing up my speech. Had I had an evening or a few quiet hours to get comfortable with it, I may have been able to look up from my 14-point typed one-sheet. I felt so supported and appreciated. They were getting me, the me who is serious and factual, with a lot of laughs. We were told that this was for family, we would be able to support and tease each other and make everyone in the group comfortable. And, sitting there, red-faced, I felt like I could have been that natural-speech giver in the room, able to look at people and respond to things being called out with quick-witted rejoinders. Pacing the room, making eye contact, all the things I admire. All the things needed to be able to do stand-up comedy. I’ve made some significant strides. I wish I had my speech at all memorized, I would have been able to grow leaps and bounds! I could-a been a contendah!

Still, so very proud today. Excited, because maybe I could, a year or seven from now, get up on an open-mic night and give a 2-minute spot.

Maybe.

eeeek!

Why is this sound universal for mice-spotting? In every book or comic I’ve ever read (not that there are so many that have such an occurrence) this group of letters has practically achieved onomatopoeia status. Nothing communicates the surprise and revulsion one feels when seeing a little rodent where one doesn’t belong quite like “Eeeek!”

So, there was a mouse in the office two days ago.

I said “Eeeek!”.

I climbed on top of my chair.

I got off the chair.

I fluttered my hands and danced around.

I acted like such a stereotype. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Here’s what happened. I will try not to use descriptive adjectives, just a somewhat dry account of the proceedings:

I was walking down the hallway on my way back from the cafeteria. I see two women standing in an odd sort of area, sort of against the middle of a cubicle wall at the end of a row. Two feet away in any direction would put them either at their own desks, or out in a common area, or over to where I just came from. One seemed a bit frazzled, one seemed like they were trying to take the situation in hand. I tried to reign in my curiosity and continue to my desk (one desk away, mind you) but I heard the muttering as I took my seat. “…. can’t believe….supposedly this happens all the time… we are surrounded by woods, and where we sit is just above the loading dock…so gross…” Okay. So, I could read the writing on the wall there. I stick my head around, with a questioning look in my eyes. “What’s going on?” I ask. To my own ears, I do not sound hysterical, just maybe “politely inquiring with a bit of trepidation”, perhaps.

Apparently, Girl 1 was coming down the hall to her cubicle when a man (a stranger to her, as she’s brand-new) who was at her desk called to her “Something is waiting for you!” (She told me later that she thought someone might have sent her flowers, poor thing.) At about the same moment, a coffee cup came to hand, and, in short order, an empty trash bin. This man trapped this creature in a styrofoam coffee cup. He is Superman.

Then, he and another no-nonsense woman from the other end of the row put the trash bin over that, and called Facilities. Right after this, I came down the hall. Thankfully, I did not have to see it. But I heard it. And hearing it struggling was more than enough, thank you.

Girl 2 tried to maintain decorum in the area. She also tried to contain the story from spreading like wildfire throughout our floor. She found out that they do pest control every single weekend, but occasionally things like this happen. Yikes! I think that freaked me out more. The certainty of it, that nothing can keep these disgusting things away from our pretty office disturbs me much more than it being a random thing that would surely never happen again.

I wigged out the rest of the day. I looked at the floor every 3.8 seconds, sure I saw something scurrying out of the corner of my eye as I tried to concentrate on work. It took quite a while for me to calm my racing heart. And I didn’t even see the thing!

Just the knowledge was enough to send me into a complete tizzy. Which continued the whole next day as well. I’m sure, come Monday I will probably still be freaking out, but at least I’ll have a brief respite this weekend.

Back to Reality

Dear Readers,

Summer, as usual, has not been good to MittenGirl. This year, I have been good and I have been bad about regular blogging. Mostly bad. I hope that I could get back to good with some uplifting life changes and some honest discipline. Starting Tuesday.

I promise myself to post more frequently. I really do. I need the outlet. I hope to kind of pull myself out of the quicksand and do the things I know I want to do, which are:

  1. write more often (blog and book),
  2. be my sweetheart’s best friend again (I’ve been on such a roller coaster of moods),
  3. get back to both school and my hobbies (get that degree, do my yoga and/or swimming).

You know, like a real life! This is not too much to ask of myself! It sounds pretty good. I’ve just got to start. And that’s the hard part. I’m bad at that.

Still, this halfway existence is no place to linger for very long. And I’ve just been wallowing in the muck. I always complain that nothing ever changes (not that I do anything about that anyway, but I still complain), and now, they have, despite all my objections.

My family moves this weekend. Tomorrow evening, after a goodbye-NJ-pizza and a bathtub’s-worth of tears, they’ll be making the 1,000+ mile trip, with my parental units to follow just as soon as they possibly can. To a lot of people, this isn’t such a big deal. I know many people who just don’t see their family very often, regardless of distance. When my young, independent self chattered on about moving cross-country after completing her education, my mother told me that “this kind of family doesn’t do that, we stick around close to home, living in the pockets of those we know, and visiting every Sunday”. Then they proceeded to do it to me. Twice. First, they all moved an hour and some minutes away from our hometown (where I still live, I kept my end of the bargain), and now the first half are moving to the place of oranges, hot weather, and Mickey Mouse, with the elders soon to follow. We don’t want to live there. I can’t stand being hot. Hey, Ohana means family!!!!! I’m being left behind, but we don’t want to follow!

The other big change is that I am rejoining the ranks of employed, responsible adults and going back to my old company (yay!) for a one-year assignment (yay!), but in a different department and capacity (not-so-yay!) on the day after Labor Day. I will be celebrating and being thankful for the day on Monday, but it’s my last day off for a while (goodbye, half-empty roads and stores… goodbye, awake at 3 a.m.!). Unlike most people trudging to work Tuesday morning bleary-eyed and unhappy about finishing what was left undone before the big weekend, I’ll be skipping around campus (and it is a campus!), happy to be back.

I got quite a bit done here these six months. I’ve also been doing a lot of helping with the craziness of moving those peeps, a lot of errands, and a lot of lazing on the couch; looking at different spots on the ceiling and memorizing the sounds of the movements of my neighborhood on a random afternoon. However, to look at the house, you’d wonder if I did anything at all. It’s still insanely packed. Just much less so than before. With no comparison, it looks pretty bad. With comparison, it looks pretty damn good. The only true solution is to move up, get our lives together and get either a bigger place or a house, hopefully. That’s my focus, along with the “reality” mentioned in the introduction to this letter.

I’ll keep you posted, those of you still checking my blog, and much more frequently.

xoxo

MittenGirl

On the Bench

Just came in from another hour or so whiling away the time on the bench in the center “courtyard” (not really) of our complex. The pattern lately is that I go out around mid-afternoon with some garbage to be taken to the dumpster or a load of stuff to take to the car and after dropping off my cargo, I sit with the guys and gals and watch the passers-by and the activity around the ‘hood.

I also have been “on the bench” in life, both lately and always-ly. Work, our engagement, our house, future… everything.

There are days that I want to do nothing but lay around perpetuating the bad mood I am already in (I know!), and when I do so, I don’t even get on the computer at all, much less write my blog. On the days that I am busy and in a good mood and a good frame of mind to write, I am too busy to actually do so.

I want to keep up with my blogging. I know that now is the time to make sure the habit is good and ingrained before going back to work and resuming regular responsibilities.

The time is now. C’mon, me!

Arriving last Saturday (by 8 pm)

Really? Because it is now Wednesday afternoon at 4 PM and I still do not have my package!

So, in the spirit of all the happy de-cluttering (aka massive throwing-out binge party) I’ve been doing, I ordered this “under the shelf basket” so I could free up one of my four measly kitchen drawers.

basket

I have been trying to resist the temptation to buy storage solutions to put me in the frame of mind for decluttering. So far, I have bought only this plus a few extremely specific containers from the dollar store. This is the antithesis of all my previous attempts, which have resulted in a whole bunch of unused containers, which are now part of the clutter problem, as opposed to the solution. Ironic, eh?

I became aware of this after I spent some time 2 weeks ago reading a book called “The Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, and I’ve been trying to follow the advice as best I could. One of the biggest points is not to try to tailor the methodology, it should work for everyone, but I’m finding that a bit tough. This is not accounting for small apartment living with “outside” laundry services, and also does not allow for putting what you have taken out somewhere while you work on it for weeks. But I’ve been sticking really close to the rest of it!

Anyway, after careful consideration of going rogue and purchasing another solution before I completed phase 1, I ordered this shelf last Tuesday. I’ve been seeing it on Pinterest for a year or so, and wanted to look into ordering it. And now I did. Yay, me! Meeting goals and doing stuff…

On Friday, the shipping information was finally updated to “On the Way… Arriving Saturday by 8 PM”, but did not give any tracking numbers. However, it did say that it left Pennsylvania on Friday evening and was en route to carrier. For those of you as US-geographically-hopeless as I am, Pennsylvania immediately borders New Jersey. I felt hopeful, though, that my package would arrive Saturday as stated. It didn’t.

It didn’t come Monday, of course, being Memorial Day. It didn’t come yesterday, but should have. I thought it would definitely be here today, it is not.

And yet, the website still says “Arriving (present tense) Saturday May 23 by 8 pm.” Cool! Time Traveling for $14.99 plus shipping and handling! The future is now!