Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'Welcome to America'

A few weeks after I received my greencard in the mail, I received “Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants.”

What they send you is actually just an abridged version in a 4-page flyer. To get the complete guide, you have to visit a government web site. I considered doing that, just to see what the Urdu or Tagalog versions look like, but I am a bit offended they do not offer a Swedish equivalent.

Reading the small flyer makes me wonder what kind of people the government really gives greencards to. There’s advice on “Getting Settled in the United States” like how to find a place to live, how to get a job, how to find an English class and how to prepare for emergencies.

Now, if you do not have a place to live, why – and more importantly, how? – could you apply for permanent residency status? That’s the most ludicrous one, to me.

The brochure also advises that “you should not move permanently to another country” (Well, duh!), that “each person has an important role to play in his or her local community” (say what?) and that if you do not have a computer at home, “you can use one at your local public library or at an ‘Internet Café’” (to print the entire guide).

Reading the “guide” makes me think they should have just given me a greencard when I set foot on American soil at John F. Kennedy Airport back in 1998. I had a job, a place to stay, and I knew how to call 911. I had access to a computer AND I knew where the library was. I also spoke English, which is more than you can say of most people who come here (and end up staying).

So, remind me, why does the U.S. government make things so difficult?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Shopping and coffee

I felt like a true American today, guiding a large, blue cart down the narrow isles at Walmart with a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in my hand. Like at least 100 other people, I was out at 11 a.m. to look for the best after-holiday sales.

Mostly, I was looking to stock up on wrapping paper, labels and ribbons for next Christmas, but I ended up with some good deals on small gift items as well.

The iced mocha latte I was holding was actually supposed to have been my Christmas morning wake-up drink.

I had finally convinced Albie to stop at Dunkin’ Donuts on our way to his parents’ house on Christmas Day. We pulled up the drive-through, and a chipper voice said, “Welcome to Dunkin’ Donuts, how may I help you?”

Albie placed my order since he was driving; there was complete silence. We wondered if maybe he had offended the attendant by starting out with “All I want is…” Usually, they come back and try to sell you something else.

A minute or so went by, then Albie finally said, “well, I’m gonna drive up now” into the microphone. Still nothing.

We drove up, and realized it was pitch black inside. Closed. Stupid automated voice machine! And not even a sign anywhere saying they were going to be closed. I thought it was only in Europe things shut down completely for Christmas.

McDonald’s was open on Christmas Eve here, when I stopped to get a McDouble and some fries on my way home from work. Even Albie found this weird, but I hadn’t had any lunch and I knew it was going to be hours before Christmas dinner was served, and McDonald’s was the only place open on my way home.

Now, I found out I cannot have my coffee when I want to! What is the world coming to? And don’t tell me I have to brew it myself in the morning – I will do no such thing. I want to pull up to a little window in my little car and pay someone to squirt the appropriate amount of whipped cream into a plastic cup and then sprinkle chocolate syrup on it – it is the only way I can start my day like a true American.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday party at work

(I made the table cloths, someone else brought in the cute decorations)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December birthdays

Four of my friends also have birthdays in December. Usually, we do not have time do get together for everyone's birthday, so we try to do a group thing. This year, we tried planning individual parties, and, of course, mine got snowed out.

But on Friday night we all met up at East Side restaurant in New Britain, a German place more famous for its atmosphere than its food, to celebrate Justin's birthday.

The staff was all in Bavarian costumes, and as soon as someone at a table ordered a large jug of beer (one liter), the whole room would shout "ticki, tocki, ticki, tocki, hoy, hoy, hoy!"

The food was OK, but very expensive. And I made the mistake of ordering au gratin potatoes, when I should have just stuck with mashed. I am sure the wienerschnitzel would have been better than the pot roast I ordered as well. Oh well, at least chocolate ice cream was included in the price for dessert, and the beer was pretty darn good!

Getting in the Christmas mood

The December storm

We got some snow last night - first big storm of the season. It's great that we will finally have a white Christmas. And despite ruining a planned birthday party, it was nice of the storm to happen on a Saturday night into Sunday morning so the road crews will have time to clear the roads before I have to go back to work.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

When Swedes come to Middletown

Last week, the Pitea Chamber Choir from Sweden visited Middletown (where I work) to host a joint concert with the Wesleyan University chorus. The performance started with a traditional Lucia processional, and it brought tears to my eyes because it was so beautiful (and yes, it made me a little homesick).

The director of the Swedish chorus, Erik Westberg, has been teaching at Wesleyan University this semester as part of a grant and exchange program. This concert, and another one by just the Swedish chorus the following day, were the culmination of his time in the United States.

He stopped by my office a couple of weeks ago and we chatted about the differences between Americans and Swedes (Americans work harder and longer) and about what the appropriate answer is to "How are you doing?" in different situations (When a friend asks: "Good, how are you?"; When asked at a restaurant: "Fine thank you.")

Now, he gets to go back to Sweden to celebrate Christmas, while I am stuck here to celebrate it "the American way."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another beautiful gift

A co-worker made this gorgeous quilt in green and purple for my birthday. Of course, as soon as I got home, the kitties played tunnels with it. When I tried to fold it up and tuck it away, they decided it was their new sleeping spot on the dining room table!

My bestest birthday present

My lovely husband and his mom got me this beautiful camera for my birthday - a Nikon D3000!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another wedding

Another one of my friends is getting married next year, and I am going to be in the wedding party. I haven't been in a wedding since 2007, when my best friend got married.

Being part of an American wedding can be both a hassle and a lot of fun. It's fun because you get to partake in all the intimate details and "behind the scenes stuff," but you also have to help with arrangements, planning and keeping the bride calm on her big day.

It can also be expensive. This time, I am getting off pretty easy. I think our bridesmaid's dresses came in around $150, and I don't have to stay overnight anywhere since the wedding is in Connecticut. With the hair and the nails and the shoes and the gifts, it will still add up.

I'm still really glad we did our wedding as simple as could be. Well, I guess it could have been even simpler, but I'm happy we only had 2o guests and that we were able to do it in Vermont. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. While others may forget details of their big day years later because they had so many details to remember, I will always remember us throwing m&ms at each other after dinner and eating cheese and crackers in the hot tub.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Twilight: New Moon

My husband took me to see "New Moon" for my birthday - after quite a bit of begging. He hated the first movie, "Twilight," and even I thought it was pretty corny and stupid.

But I still wanted to see the sequel. After all, this is the book where Jacob is featured prominently, and he is my favorite character. I wish there was a movie just about Jacob, but this is probably as close as we're gonna get. That is, of course, until they make the fourth movie. Then hopefully at least part of it will be about him.

The main reason I have a problem with the movies is that they are so geared toward 14-year-old girls. Ooooh, look! There's Edward running without his shirt on! And the "Bella, I won't ever hurt you, I won't ever leave you" and then the next minute you're gone. I guess if I had still been 14 I would have loved it - that's what life was like back then, right?

Thanks to a bigger budget for movie no. 2, "New Moon" actually does OK in terms of tying things together - there's depressing music, there's great cinematography - and yes, I even cried when Edward left. And compared to the first movie - but that's not saying much since it was absolute garbage - "New Moon" is 10 times better.

The best part? Edward isn't it in much.

Sometimes, I guess, it's better when the characters just stay in your head. At least then they look the way you want them to, and not like a pretty-boy "Harry Potter" actor who is now wearing too much makeup.

My birthday dinner

Yummy, yummy foods!

Hello Kitty!

A pretty cookie someone made for a party I recently went to.
(I just had to take a picture before I munched on that cute face!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The 30th year of Viktoria

A year and a half ago, I wrote a blog post called The Years of Viktoria, where I named all my years from 1978 to 2008.

I'd like to add 2009 to that: The Year of Big Changes.

Not only did I get married this year, but I also had my stomach cut open and started a new job. I am not sure what next year will bring, but I think I read in a horoscope somewhere that it will be peacful and things will begin to settle down for me. At least that's what I'd like to believe.

I usually spend a lot of time on my birthday reflecting over years past and people I do not see anymore and why that is, but this year my birthday has been a pretty normal day. And it's been fun - and very relaxing. Of course, the two mimosas helped, as did the half-bottle of wine at Olive Garden.

Swedish buns at work

Kitties in the snow

As a birthday present to myself, I took the kitties out to play in the snow this morning. They are usually pretty good - they never go very far. Today, they tip-toed around in the snow, shaking their paws every three seconds. They sniffed it, they touched it, they walked backwards - but they didn't even consider coming back inside. I had to enlist my husband to help lure them back in. Now they yowl at the door, wanting to go back outside.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gotta love the GPS

Most of the time, I don't need a GPS system to tell me where to go. Even if I do use the little machine, I still like to look up directions ahead of time because it isn't always that reliable.

It is convenient to use if I have enough patience to actually wait for it to boot up and find a GPS signal, and then plug in the address, because it can tell me exactly where to turn if I am not sure, and I never have to wonder if I went too far or if I missed the exit.

But for the most part, I just turn it on to get some laughs.

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving on the highway to get to a friend's house. I wasn't sure about the last couple of turns, so I had turned the system on before I left my house to be ready. I am in the left lane on the highway, when a female voice suddenly comes out of nowhere and demands that I "turn left in a quarter mile." There were no exits in sight.

I ignored the command, thinking about all those idiots who have driven into walls or lakes "because my GPS system told me to turn there." You gotta use some common sense, people!

Since the person who gave it to me used the GPS in Torrington, the system frequently wants me to go back north. And lately, no matter where I am or what address I punch in, it seems it just wants me to "turn around whenever possible" or "make a right and then a right" to go in the opposite direction.

Perhaps one day it will come in handy. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ready for the holidays

On Thanksgiving night, Albie pulled out our Christmas tree from the big box in the basement and started putting it together. It looks even better this year than before with the new floors. I got done early at work Friday and spent most of the night putting up the rest of the decorations (two stockings and lights around the window in the kitchen, Albie's Pharmacy in the window and wreaths and lights on all our railings). Now we are ready!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My reward

The biggest problem with shopping for other people is that I always find things for myself. I usually don't let myself get them - I try to nicely remind myself that this trip is about other people, and I can get whatever I want another time.

This bag, however, was just too good to be true. I had looked at something similar a few years ago when I got my first real job as a journalist. Saturday, it was the first thing that caught my eye as I walked into JC Penney's at the mall.

There it was, on the top rack, just in front of me in its black shinyness.

Looking around to see if anyone else had seen it too, I slowly walked towards it. It was as if it was calling my name.

As I got close enough to see the price, I almost choked out of surprise: $14.97. Thinking there must be some sort of mistake, I peeled the clearance sticker off slightly to see the original price: $140.

After getting confirmation from the cashier that the beautiful bag was, indeed, only $15, I just had to have it. And that was the best part of my Christmas shopping yesterday.

Seeing double

I hate shopping with lots of other people around. The slow-walkers you can't get around, the people who stop in the middle of the aisles without notice, the kids who scream because they cannot take the toys home and the lack of parking - I just hate all of it.

So in an attempt to avoid some craziness, I ventured out on Saturday to do most of my Christmas shopping (the big sales start on Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - known as Black Friday here).

The Christmas cards I ordered last week also came in right before the weekend, so my plan was to get most of the holiday-related madness out of the way so I can spend part of December - Viktoria's Birthday Season - cooking good food and making holiday candy. And maybe even get some relaxing done, while others are out running around like crazy.

I didn't get nearly everything done that I had planned, of course - I never do in terms of shopping - but I think I made out pretty good. Especially in terms of getting things for free because someone screwed up.

For Albie's grandma and for a friend of mine, I had ordered some re-prints of photos at Walmart. I stopped by yesterday afternoon to place the order via a machine in the store, thinking I could go back today to pick up the prints. Of course, the machine was broken and the pictures were never ordered.

Four trips to the store later, I get a call saying "they are all set, you can come pick them up." Credit card in hand, I rush to the check-out counter.
"No charge," the lady says. "You had to wait way too long for these."

I ran out of the store happily - and of course I forgot to pick up the extra wrapping paper I so desperately needed. When I got home, and Albie reminded me I also forgot to pick up the W40 he had asked me to get, I ripped open the photo envelope to show him what I planned to give his grandma.
"Wait a minute!" I said. "There's two of everything!"
And it didn't cost a thing.

A similar thing happened with the Christmas cards. As I was in the midst of the last batch of cards early this morning, I realized the amount of envelopes I had put aside and the inch-high stack of cards left on my desk didn't exactly match up. For some reason, the card company had sent me 150 photo cards instead of the 75 I ordered.

The only problem now is to figure out what to do with all the extra stuff. I really don't want to send out the same cards again next year! Anyone want two?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Berlin Wall

I don't remember much about the fall of the Berlin Wall. I was 10 years old at the time, and I remember that a few weeks later - probably over the Christmas holidays - a classmate of mine went to Germany with her family and came back with a piece of concrete.

"What's that?" we all asked as she showed it off in school.
"It's a piece of The Wall," she said.

The wall was, of course, one of the stops on my trip to Berlin in 2001 when I went with my friend Jenny (above). Part of it still stands, showing a clear division of East and West that is not easily forgotten.

Apparently, when it happened, I wrote a song about the wall coming down. My grandmother just reminded me when I spoke to her last week. I vaguely remember hitting some keys on our old, out-of-tune piano and trying to compose some ugly notes on a sheet of home-made music notation paper.

My grandmother, who had just been released from the hospital after a back surgery, remembers laying in bed as I played and sang to her from across the room.

"Oh, I wish we had recorded it," my grandmother said.

All I can remember is that I - when I was 14 or 15 - found some badly written piece of pink paper, and when I tried to play the notes on it, it sounded like the theme song to "McGyver." I tossed it on the spot and never thought about it again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cat massage

My friend and former roommate Bo is training to be a massage therapist. She came over to my house yesterday to give me a massage as part of her training toward her practical exam. However, someone else in my house decided HE was the one who should get a massage.

Before the table was even completely set up, Pip was pacing back and forth underneath and around it. As soon as the sheets went on it, Pip was on the table too. Although his massage lasted only a few minutes, and not the full 50 that I got, he seemed more than pleased when he jumped off and settled back in his regular spot on top of the kitty tower.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The warm welcome

Today I had a letter from USCIS in the mail.

"Your application has been approved," it said. "Welcome to America."

To someone who has received at least a dozen letters from the government on the same letterhead, each listing a case number and an outcome, or a laundry list of missing documents, it was refreshing to get a letter where the overall tone was different.

Not only was the writer trying to convey a warm welcome while at the same time using government-approved sentences, but the bottom of the letter contained phone numbers you can call for help if you run into ANY problems, ANY at all.

All of a sudden, I am getting the VIP treatment. Now, I am almost an American.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Greencard Interview

We had prepared for it for months, starting with the day I sent in the last of my "additional evidence" requested by the immigration authorities.

The night before the interview, Albie read aloud some sample questions he had found on the internet, and we learned that the interviwer may ask where we keep our towels and dirty laundry as well as who feeds the cats and how often, what we had for breakfast that morning and who sleeps on what side of the bed.

All my photo albums were ready to go - from the wedding album to cat and condo photos - and all our joint Christmas cards for the past 2 years were neatly arranged in Ziplock bags.

We got to the interview a few minutes early, found parking right away, and realized the building we were looking for was the courthouse. The metal detector was no problem, except for the paperclip in my shoe, and after we checked in with the receptionist we were seen almost immediately.

Albie had joked that I would be made to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, to which I confidently responded "I don't need to know it - I am not a citizen."

As we entered a small office with glass walls, the immigration officer stopped and asked us both to raise or right hand. "Oh shit!" I thought. Maybe Albie was right.

"Do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth here today?" he asked.
"I do," Albie said.
"Yes," I replied.
Which led to a discussion as to what the correct and appropriate answer actually is. We found out that even nodding was OK in this instance.

"So, you guys live in (town name)?" our interviewer's first question was, although it wasn't really a question. "The Magic Valley."
Then we discussed the water quality of the local river (rumor has it that 20 years ago you could develop film in the river).
"And you are both reporters?"
"Well, we both work for newspapers. That's why we are so tired - it's the morning after Election Day."
"I see."

The interviewer looked through our applications. He turned to me, almost apologetically.
"Have you ever been arrested?"
"In any country?"
"I'm just kidding." He laughed. "I know you haven't."
He pointed to the papers.
Ha ha.
"Have you ever been a terrorist?"
"Let's see..." (Looking through papers)
"Is that my background check?"
"Yes. You're good - no terrorist activities."

More flipping through papers.
"So, you guys got married in Vermont?"
"Why do you want to come HERE, if you're from Sweden? You should make your husband move to Sweden!"
"Sure, maybe later, after we have kids."
"Although Sweden has its share of immigration problems."

"Any joint property?"
"Good. This is great."

A few minutes later...
"OK, you are all set. Your greencard will arrive in two weeks."
"What? We're done?"
"Yup. Look for it in the mail."
"But don't you want to see our wedding photos?"
"Yes, sure."
"We've gone through all this trouble."
"That's what everyone says."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New in the dining room

We used our new sconses on the walls of the dining room for the first time today! It was the perfect day to light candles all around the house, and with daylight savings time being over, everything gets dark really early.

Dinner for three

Sophie and Pip decided to join Albie's mom for dinner now that we actually have a dining room table. Then Sophie fell asleep on a placemat after dinner...

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Royal Party

A few weeks ago, my former landlord - the farm owner - threw us a Royal Celebration party on her farm (coincidentally, right outside the house where I used to live). We were singing, dancing, eating and - best of all - I got to wear my wedding dress again!

Of course, that particular day it was cold and very windy. Her royal highness picture above - when not being warmed up by her husband - was wearing a thermo shirt under the dress and a sweater on top of it.

Most people were freezing their butts off, but the food and company was very good, and after some wine everyone seemed to warm up a bit.

My new to-do list

Before I took the job in Middletown, I had made a to-do list of things to get through during my last week in Torrington.

* Get a haircut
* Get an oil change
* Clean the bathroom

were some of the things on my list. Well, 7,000 miles overdue, my car finally got an oil change last weekend. Still waiting for that haircut, though, and I haven't made it to my chiropractor in over eight weeks. Good thing I still have time to visit the gym once a week so my bad back can keep up with my new schedule!

I haven't had time to do much, yet important things like watching "CSI" usually makes it into my schedule somehow...

Most of the time when I get home, I don't even turn my computer on. And my computer is The Writing Machine. Albie's computer, conveniently located on the landing just by the stairs, is always on. But his computer is for fun things like playing jigsaw puzzles, checking e-mail or harvesting pumpkins on my farm.

I find it very hard to write in such an open space. And I find it even harder to turn my computer on and go in my room and close the door. It's much easier to avoid it altogether.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Obama in Connecticut

I received this tonight in my work e-mail and figured I'd share a little piece of it - seems like the beginning of an award-winning speech to me!

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 23, 2009


Stamford Hilton
Stamford, Connecticut

5:47 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Connecticut! (Applause.) Hello, Stamford! (Applause.) It is good to be back in Connecticut. Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat -- have a seat. Relax for a second. I'm just warming up here. (Laughter.)

I'm going to talk a little bit about this guy in a second. Let me begin by just acknowledging some wonderful public servants who have just been serving their constituencies with great distinction for, in some cases, a lot of years.

First of all, Congressman John Larson is in the house. Where's John? There he is, John Larson. (Applause.) Congressman Chris Murphy. Chris. (Applause.) Congressman Jim Himes. (Applause.) Yes, sir. This is Jim's district, so he's got the home court advantage. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. (Applause.) And Mayor of Stamford, Dannel Malloy is in the house. (Applause.)

I can see this is a feisty crowd. (Applause.) What are you guys eating? (Laughter.) You don't know yet, huh? It's a surprise? All right.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My new office

My new office is located in an old clocktower building, hence the beautiful antique stairs (that nobody ever uses because we have an elevator taking us straight to the fourth floor).
Everything is clean and new (as opposed to flooded and water damaged like in Torrington). I started decorating slightly last week, but the Ivar bookcase is currently leaning up against the window frame since I forgot to buy the metal cross that supports it!
Eventually, the books will go on the bookcase and there will be more plants in the window (there are 3 right now, but since they're against a dark background you can hardly see them).
The last picture shows my actual work space. I had two computers, but mostly just use my laptop. The second computer I had to give away to a new reporter - I just kept the nice widescreen monitor for show!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Painting the closet

Once the new floors were in, it became obvious that our dirty old closet needed to have a fresh coat of paint before we put any items back in there. Still in the process of touching that up as well... and of course the trim around the door and the door itself will have to be painted white (the same white as all the other trim).

New floor pictures

You'll have to excuse the mess - we are still in the process of painting the trim that was removed and put up again. And we still haven't managed to bring the couch back into the living room - it's very heavy and it barely fits through the door and up the little entrance way.
I will post better pictures another day - maybe when the weekend arrives!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An update about work

It's been so long since I posted something on here, that I had to log in to the site all over again. Normally, Blogger remembers my password - I guess I passed the expiration date.

I've been a bit hesitant to blog about work. Not only have I been extremely busy getting us through a re-design and conversion from tabloid to broadsheet with all the template changes and system quirks that involves, but I've been busy interviewing people for open positions. I've hired two - now there's only one spot left. But it seems to be the hardest.

I've been reluctant to post something on here too because I know that anyone in my new office who decides to google my name plus "blog," or maybe just google my name, would eventually come across this blog. I'm not quite sure what is "safe" to blog about yet - being the boss and all.

But I guess I can say I've settled in to my new office a bit - kitty pictures are up on the wall behind me, bookcase and plants have been purchased at IKEA. I'm thinking of making curtains as well for my nice big window. The only problem? The ceilings are 12 foot tall.

On the home front, our floors are finally done. We got brand new ones after they ripped out the ones that didn't look too good, and our stove finally got hooked up again on Friday afternoon. Of course, the gas company says "anytime between noon and 4 p.m.," which turns into 5:30 p.m.... so I lost almost a whole day of work sitting here waiting for the gas guy. Oh well. I guess I'll have grounds for a BIG argument once the bill comes... Considering how much they are costing me, they should be paying me to sit here and wait...

I've got a pot of chili on the stove now and the antipasto squares just came out of the oven. Of course, with the floors now done, it means all those other home improvement projects we'd been putting off until the floors were done are now on the to-do list. Can of white trim paint, here I come!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Floors finally done

I got home today and voila! The floors are all done! No more strangers running in and out of our house at ungodly hours of the morning...

Still have to wait until Friday to have stove hooked up again since I didn't call the gas company early enough... oh well. At least by the weekend I'll be able to cook again!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Another flooring update

Did you think the floors looked good in the previous pictures? Oh well. We ripped them out and had to start all over again. They were defective (The edges of each piece kept sticking up).

The floors are now a little less done than what you saw in the pictures below, but they are nicer ones for the same price.

Of course, we weren't expecting it taking almost three weeks to complete... it's tough not having a stove hooked up. I guess I could have cooked some stuff on the George Forman or on the real grill - or in the Crock Pot or microwave for that matter. But I just haven't been home to even worry about it. Work is getting the best of me.

But with one week behind us after the redesign, things will hopefully calm down real soon. The beginning of last week, though, was awful - especially in terms of phone messages. I didn't even have time to listen to my messages before I had new ones, and as soon as I hung up, someone called again. "The crossword is missing." "Where is my cryptoquote?" "I can't find the index."

All in all, though, it went well.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Flooring update

After five days of having to get up at 8 a.m. to let the floor guy in, I am a bit disappointed to see that the floors still aren't done. Granted, we hit a bump in the road on the first day - our plywood underneath the particle board wasn't thick enough and made everything really bouncy. We had to add an extra half-inch of plywood before the floor could be laid down.

And the company only sent one guy to do the job. On the third day, he brought in his brother. But they are still not done.

The dining room is done but still needs all the trim re-attached. The living room is mostly done, but you can see the black "rug" area in the picture where the floor still has to go up to the railing. And the hallway needs its entire floor. And they haven't even ripped out the old floor in the kitchen!

So, not only have I been getting up at 8 a.m. every other day (Albie and I took turns), but I've had to go back to sleep with earplugs. We've also had the stove disconnected since Monday and cannot cook or use the oven. Can't wait until this is all over!

The toilet emergency

I was deep in sleep on Saturday morning when Albie comes bursting into the bedroom.
"Viiiiih-khan! Get up!" he yells in a panicked voice. "Get up, get up, get up!"

I jump out of bed and stand for a second in the dark, dizzy, trying to figure out what's going on. Albie grabs my shoulders and looks straight into my eyes.
"How do you turn the water off on the toilet?"

Immediately, I realize the severity of the situation. I rush into the bathroom. Halfway to the toilet, I notice my feet are already soaked in about an inch of water. Albie stops at the door, throwing down a ton of paper towels behind me.

I turn the little knob and the water stops. (All my plumming experience actually stems from incidents just like this one). Of course, there is still water everywhere - lots of water.

We start throwing old bath towels on the floor, then the hand towels. I refuse to use my nice, new towels. Even if we wash them later, I'm gonna know they've been in "toilet water."

Everything goes in the tub - for now. While Albie is wiping up the last of the water, I get to work on the toilet issue with a plunger and a bucket of hot water. A few minutes later, we are good to go.

We wipe down the whole bathroom to get the toilet smell out of it. I wash my hands, vigorously, and head back to bed. After all, it's only 11 a.m.

"At least I don't have to clean the bathroom today," I think as I slide back under my warm blanket. I mentally check it off my to-do list and fall back asleep.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

You know you're the boss when...

You know you're the boss when...

  • People stop talking as you walk down the hall.
  • Reporters quickly close out of solitaire as you approach their desks.
  • People older than you starts referring to you as ma'm.
  • IT/tech people respond to your desperate calls for help within a few minutes instead of a few weeks.
  • You can afford to buy lunch instead of make it.
  • Your rearview mirror has a nice, laminated parking pass.
  • It is up to you to decide whose name gets to be on the masthead.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kitties help with floor project

What's up with all this???

Boy, ripping up carpets is fun!!!
I like to eat it and hide underneath it.

But the whole thing is VERY exhausting...

The floor project

So in addition to starting a new job less than a week ago, we are also having new floors installed. The guys are coming tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. to start. In order to get ready, Albie and I had to rip out all the ugly, green wall-to-wall carpet and the foam underneath. To be nice, we also pulled up all the little pieces of nail-strips that held the carpet in place.

The floor guys will tear up the particle board, which will just crumble since it consists of glued-together sawdust. I am hoping to be out of the house when they start and will probably just have a glimpse of their progress before I pass out for the night.

The good news is that in 3-4 days, we will have brand new hardwood floors. Bye, bye ugly carpet! We won't miss you a bit!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


So, I got a new job. In fact, I started this week (Tuesday).

It all happened very quickly. Because it's within the same company, I guess it's considered a promotion and I didn't have to give 2 weeks' notice. It's going to mean a lot more work - at least for the next month or so - but also a little more money. Which hopefully will make it worthwhile.

More details will follow as soon as I'm able to get some rest - the past couple of weeks have been immensely stressful. Let's just put it this way, the woman who was in my office before me either had the world's worst hangnails or didn't spend much time working - while cleaning out her desk, I've already found three emery boards (nail files).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The mystery at Yale University

Annie Le was supposed to get married Sunday. She had meticulously planned her wedding, and she was looking forward to becoming Mrs. Jonathan Widawsky, friends say.

Last Tuesday, she entered her lab at Yale University. She never came out again.

The day of her wedding, forensic officials announced they had found the body of a girl who matched Le's description. It was found inside a wall, in a chase on the basement level.

For days, I kept hoping this would just be a case of cold feet. Perhaps Annie Le had changed her mind, I thought. Maybe she wore a disguise and slipped out of the building unnoticed by the security cameras. She could have just wanted to get away from it all for a little while. But why leave her purse, her keys, her ID and her cell phone behind?

When officials on Saturday found bloody clothes tucked away above the ceiling tiles in the laboratory building in New Haven, I knew she couldn't possibly be alive. Despite saying later that the clothes were no Le's, it was impossible not to think of what probably happened in that building that caused someone to stash away evidence.

The suspect, identified as a lab worker with defensive wounds on his body when first interviewed, is expected to be arrested Tuesday. We all want to know who it is and what happened. But of course, the more pressing question is why. Why was a 24-year-old, friendly, pretty girl slain five days before her wedding? Why did she have to die?

Perhaps we'll never know the whole story. But hopefully at least the family will know why their daughter and future wife was taken away too soon. It won't make it any easier to deal with the loss, but at least they will know she didn't willingly abandon this world.