Summer Reading List

Even though it is chilly and rainy this morning in the Northwest, I still decided to go ahead with my summer reading list post. For most of the country, the weather is warm and sunny, and people are lounging by pools with their books and their iced tea. And, if you’re in the Seattle area like me, you can use this list when you curl up with your hot latte to read while the rain falls outside.

I literally read ‘Through These Eyes’ in one sitting, it was so good. In this chilling book, a police officer comes to grips with shooting and killing the wrong person during a pursuit. The family of the slain victim, a teenage boy, is filled with rage at the unjust killing of their son, while the officer responsible just tries to deal with the consequences of her fatal mistake. 

The lastest memoir by my favoritest author ever, Jen Lancaster, this book is hilarious. I originally bought the hardcover edition since Kindle has had some issues with footnotes, but that’s been resolved now so the Kindle edition is just as satisfying. The book is filled with short stories so it’s a quick read, and as always I adore the narcissistic-yet-lovable Jen.

This was another book I read extremely quickly. After Grace races into a burning school to save her daughter Jenny from the flames, she wakes up in the hospital to find both she and Jenny are caught outside of their badly damaged bodies, watching the aftermath of the fire – which is determined to be arson – unfold.

What’s a girl to do when her father gets her an exotic bird (instead of a car!) for her 16th birthday? How does she cope when her therapist refuses to attend couples’ therapy with her to work on their therapist-client relationship? Babe Walker has a host of problems, outlined in this hilarious book.

I’ve been a Grisham fan for ages, and ‘The Litigators’ does not disappoint. Fast-track lawyer David Zinc flees his job with a fancy downtown firm, and after spending the day binge-drinking, stumbles upon the ambulance-chasing firm of Finley and Figg. When the ’boutique firm’ (as they call themselves) jump headfirst into litigation against a drug company, the easy money they anticipate winning seems too good to be true….and probably is.

Happy Reading!

Are You Poopy?

Over the last couple of days at work, all the employees that work in my area have been attending meetings to boost employee morale and help us keep a positive attitude amid challenging and sometimes frustrating working conditions. During the course of the meeting, the instructor (others have called him Trainer Dude, so I’l go with that) discussed the people that are constantly negative and complaining. He told us that he calls these people “Poopy” and says that they want to smear their poopiness all around onto the happy people.

Toward the end of the meeting, Trainer Dude said that it was very important to be self aware, and that Poopy people may not KNOW that they are Poopy. I felt bad for the Poopy people. I mean, if Trainer Dude is right and people avoid the Poopies, how will they ever know what they are? So, for this reason, I designed an at-home self check for being Poopy.

                        How Poopy Are You?
1.       You’re getting out of your car to get into work, when you slam your finger in the car door. Do you:
a.       Smile and say, “At least I have nine fingers that DON’T hurt!”
b.      Mutter swear words under your breath as tears well up in your eyes.
c.       Smash your car door with your lunch box. Take THAT, you jerk of a door!
2.       Ok, you free yourself from the car door and make it into your office. The receptionist greets you at the door. Your response?
a.       “Salutations! Isn’t this the bestest day EVER?”
b.      “Good Morning.”
c.       You don’t say anything, you just flip her the bird and stalk off to your desk.
3.       Which animal best represents you?
a.       A puppy  – thrilled to live life and excited for each new day.
b.      A cow – happy to be in your pasture chewing your cud, not too overexcited.
c.       The honey badger – it doesn’t give a s**t.
4.       What’s your take on rainstorms?
a.       I love them, of course! Rainstorms bring beautiful flowers. And there’s nothing to fear, they are just a sign that God is mopping the floor in Heaven!
b.      I don’t love driving in them, but it’s nice to curl up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book.
c.       Hate hate hate stupid rainstorms. Hate stupid noisy windshield wipers with their stupid scraping sounds. Hate stupid puddles. Hate stupid rain.
5.       You’re sitting at a stop light, waiting to make a left-hand turn. The person in front of you seems to have a serious case of left-hand-turn phobia, and you’ve suffered through two lights already. When the light turns green for a third time and they still don’t move, you:
a.       Smile happily and revel in the fact that this unexpected stop has allowed you to get some fresh air and admire the scenery. What a treat!
b.      Honk your horn and mutter, “Please, please, just turn.”
c.       Get out of your car and smash in the person’s taillights with the baseball bat you keep on hand, “just in case”.
Mostly As: 

You’re a bright, shining ray of sunlight. And, quite frankly, you’re going to get yourself hit by the baseball bat that other people carry “Just in case”. While it’s good to have a positive outlook, your over-the-top optimism is off-putting and a little scary. Consider Valium.
Mostly Bs:

While you occasionally have a bad moment, a bad reaction, or a bad day, you’re not poopy, you’re just real. You can still have the Valium if you want, though.
Mostly Cs:

Congratulations! You most definitely fit the description of Poopy. While you may worry what people will think of you after this great revelation, no worries: Your friends/family/coworkers began avoiding you years ago.

My Birthday

Saturday was my 28th birthday!

Last spring, I was thinking about my birthday and was feeling a little sad about being far away from my family. My dad and I share the same birthday, and spending the day without him would just feel odd. Even though this is my third summer in the Northwest, I’ve been able to see my dad each year so far. The first year I lived here, Paul and I flew back to California for 4th of July, which wasn’t my exact birthday but was very close to it. Last year, my mom and dad came to visit us and celebrate birthdays.

Paul had to work on my birthday, so I brought up the idea of me flying to California for the weekend. He didn’t mind, so I called my parents and asked what they thought. They were both excited and my dad bought my plane ticket for me on the spot as we spoke on the phone.

Ever since that phone call, I’ve been super excited for my trip back. I love my home in the Northwest and I am happy we moved here, but I’m close to my family and I really miss them. And, birthdays at my parents’ house are a blast! My parents throw great parties with lots of people. It’s always loud and chaotic and everyone usually ends up laughing til they have tears streaming down their faces at one point or another.

I left for California on Friday night after work. I’ve only flown by myself once before, but I felt pretty relaxed in spite of the fact that I’m not wild about flying. My sister pointed out to me that I was more likely to be attacked by a donkey than be involved in a plane crash, but still, I much prefer cars to planes. This particular flight wasn’t bad at all though. I had a window seat, so I could look out at the city lights below me, and the man who sat next to me was a nice older guy with a poodle in his carry-on bag. He teased me, asking me if I liked pet rats.

When the plane landed in Ontario, I was off in a matter of minutes. I had a seat near the front of the plane, and now that I’ve experienced sitting near the front I can say that it’s the only way to go. Last one on, first one off. The terminal at Ontario isn’t very large, so I was able to make my way through it fairly quickly. My parents were waiting for me as I rode down the escalator toward the exit. I love the moment when I first see them when I arrive after being away. The first hug, the big smiles all around….it’s a great moment.

Dad drove us home, and since it was pretty late we went to bed nearly as soon as we got to Apple Valley. In the morning, Dad and I went out to breakfast together. This is a birthday tradition with Dad and my siblings and I. On each kid’s birthday, Dad would take them out to breakfast. We talked and ate way too much food, then ran a couple errands and went home to get ready for our birthday party that night.

As usual, the house was packed. My brother and sister came over with their respective significant others, and my friends Keri and Jenn both came. We’ve been friends for nearly nine years, when we started working together in 411. Mom’s best friend Debbie came with her husband. It was a loud, fun crowd of people.

To prepare for the party, Mom made a TON of food! We had fruit bowls and veggie trays, potato salad (my favorite, I don’t like potato salad at ALL unless it’s my mom’s, in which case I can’t get enough of it!), and watermelon (Mom had sliced open the watermelon and made the rind into a basket, then hollowed it out, balled the watermelon itself, and put the balls into the rind basket. So cute!). My brother Steve grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, my sister Melissa brought mini corn dog muffins that she’d made as well as cookie dough truffles, and her boyfriend Doug brought pasta salad. I fixed some margaritas and Keri and I watched, enthralled, as my sister’s boyfriend expertly cut up an onion for my mom. We were impressed that he had actual culinary-grade knife skills and was able to make the onion slices so pretty.

My dad and I opened our presents while everyone watched (thanks for the gifts, everyone!) and then we ate the barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner, along with helping ourselves throughout the night to the variety of other foods available. I was stuffed but I couldn’t stop eating! We eventually took a break from eating and all hung out chatting for quite awhile, and then it was time for birthday cake. Dad and I each had our own (Dad’s was chocolate with chocolate fudge frosting, and mine was chocolate with cream cheese frosting) and everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for us and watched us blow out the candles.

We even had some natural entertainment that night. As the sun set, Mom noticed a pretty awesome lightning storm in the distance. Those of us that weren’t scared of lightning went outside to watch as bolts of lighning continuously lit up the dark night sky. It was pretty impressive. I tried to capture it on video with my phone, but the picture came out terrible and all you can see is darkness, with flashes of light in it. I love thunder and lightning.

It was nearly one in the morning by the time everyone went home, and Mom, Dad, and I went to bed. I woke up around seven in the morning when I heard my mom say, “Oh, Steve’s here!” My brother works the night shift as a security guard in the emergency room of one of the local hospitals, so he had dropped by after getting off work. I threw on clothes and went to see him. We talked for awhile, and then he fell asleep in the armchair. Dad and I decided to go to the store and get some eggs and bacon to have for breakfast, and my parents cooked me a breakfast that we enjoyed outside on their back patio. Ahhh California, I love your weather. Steve woke up after a bit and joined us outside.

Not long after Steve decided to head home to get a little more sleep, Melissa came by and we hung out talking until it was time for me to leave for the airport. My parents drove me, and although I was a little sad to be leaving so soon I was more happy that we’d had such a fun time together. The time-to-go-home part is getting a little easier over time. I was through security in under five minutes, and got to settle in and watch people struggle with boarding procedures. They had a hard time understanding that they couldn’t get on the plane when first-class passengers were called and they were not first-class. They had an even harder time figuring out why they weren’t allowed to board when the attendant called for rows 25 and up, and they were assigned a seat in row 12. It was great entertainment. I’d purposely selected a seat in row 10, the furthest forward available when I did my check-in and printed my boarding pass, so I among the last people called to board and got to watch the mayhem.

All in all, I had a terrific birthday and I am SO grateful to Mom and Dad for the plane ticket and for making sure I had such a fun time. I got to have both a great party on my birthday, and some nice quiet family time the day after. I’m definitely tired today but it is beyond worth it, I get a huge smile on my face whenever I think about the weekend. This was definitely one of my favorite birthdays and trips back to SoCal.

My whole family 

                                                           Jenn, Me, and Keri

Walk of Pain

This week has been a crazy one at work, due to the visits of several higher-ups who were in town from back east to conduct a series of meetings. With these visits came the understanding that we as the Customer Advocacy team should look nice and behave ourselves (which of course we would do anyway). We have a dress code anyways, but we always take it up a notch when there are executives around.

Coincidentally, meeting week was also the first full week of truly nice summer weather. The boys were at a disadvantage because there was no way they could get out of wearing dress slacks, but since I’m a girl I can wear dresses and chose to do so all week long. Normally in summertime I opt to wear a cute pair of sandals with dresses, but yesterday I was looking around in my closet and came across a pair of absolutely adorable black peep toe slingbacks that I wore to my sister’s graduation years ago. I don’t wear open-toe shoes much in winter or even spring because we get so much rain, but since the weather forecast for the day was promising I decided to pull them out and wear them. “Why don’t I wear these more often?” I wondered to myself as I admired my feet in the shoes.

I spent most of the morning sitting down: sitting at my desk, sitting in an uncomfortable chair during the All Employee Meeting, sitting in the big oversize chairs in the lobby on my break. Sitting sitting sitting. I didn’t pack anything for lunch, so I went out and got a sandwich during my lunch break. Because of the meetings, when I got back I had lost my parking spot and there was literally no available spaces anywhere near the entrance to the office. Since the weather was nice, I parked in the farthest parking lot from the front door. I had a long walk back inside but I didn’t mind, since it was sunny and warm out.

As I walked along, I suddenly remembered why I hardly wear those fabulous slingback heels. With each step, the cruel shoes would pinch my toes painfully as some sort of unwarranted punishment for walking. As Monica once said on ‘Friends’, “These shoes hate feet and want them to die!”

Step by painful step, I made my way back to the office and up the stairs. I slipped the shoes off under my desk to give my feet a break, thinking that if I did then I could wear the shoes later and I’d be ok. I went for a walk on my break, but I put on the pair of sneakers that I keep under my desk for days that I don’t have on comfortable walking shoes. I’m sure that I was making one hell of a fashion statement wearing Nikes with my flowered skirt and wrap blouse. Oh yes, I was a vision. Models in Milan will be on the runway in Nike shoes with flowing skirts next season, fo sho.

At the end of the day, I reluctantly slipped my feet back into the heels and made my way down the staircase, through the lobby, and out onto the skybridge leading to the parking lot. I could already tell this wasn’t going to be a nice walk. My car was in BFE and the only way to get there was to limp, step by painful step, with my toes being agonizingly pinched. I plodded along, wincing with each step I took. I tried taking smaller steps, but it just prolongued the pain.

I have never been so glad to make it to my car and sit down. I drove home, and immediately upon setting foot in the door I pulled the shoes off my achy feet. Then I went straight to the closet and put the shoes carefully away.

After all, they may be painful, but they are SUPER cute!

4th of July

Last Wednesday was the 4th of July, which is one of my favorite holidays. The weather’s nice (yes, usually even here in rainy Washington), and there are barbecues to attend and fireworks to watch. To me, the day feels like the official ushering-in of summer.

This year, since the holiday fell right smack in the middle of the week, Paul and I collectively decided that it would not be practical to try and go out to watch a firework display. We both had to work in the morning, and since the sun sets so late here, we’d be guaranteed to get home way too late if we ventured out after dark. We decided to get out during the day though, and enjoy the warm sunshine after enduring weeks of wet, chilly weather in June. Paul has a fairly new car, a Chrysler Crossfire convertible, and we really enjoy going out in the car on nice days.

We had a very pleasant day. We ended up at Redmond Town Center for lunch (for those wondering, we ate at the Desert Fire restaurant, which is tasty enough but not nearly worth the price). After lunch we got cold drinks at Starbucks and sat on a bench in the sun, in front of some fountains. There were a few kids playing in the water and we relaxed and watched them for awhile.

After it got a little too warm sitting out in the sun, we went back to the car and made our way to Bothell, where we took a nice afternoon walk on the Sammamish River Trail. I love getting out and walking on nice days. The weather was perfect and it felt great to get a little exercise while we spent time together.

We stopped at the store on our way home and got a watermelon and two slices of berry pie to go with the burgers we planned to grill (well, Paul did the grilling) for dinner. As we were eating, I thought about how it really felt like a perfect 4th of July, save for the fact that we wouldn’t be seeing any fireworks.

Around 9:15, we were watching tv when we started to hear some explosions outside. When I was growing up, it was illegal to launch your own fireworks, so we really didn’t hear too many being set off. In Snohomish County though, they’re legal, and in the last couple years I’ve gotten used to a couple neighbors deciding to buy a couple explosives and hearing some random booms. The first summer we stayed home, I was anxious as hell and convinced that the neighbors were going to burn down our apartment complex. By now I’m pretty  comfortable that there will be no fires, and I’m more used to it.

Well, I thought I was more used to it.

Paul went to the window and announced that he could actually see fireworks. I got up and looked for myself, and saw actual big fireworks exploding in the sky. These weren’t just little ones being set off in someone’s driveway, it was like watching a planned display.

The sounds grew more numerous and we walked out into the front yard to see what was going on. As we stood there, the fireworks grew more plentiful and soon there were bright splashes of color all around us. Paul went in and grabbed his camera so he could snap pictures of fireworks above our house.

 I’d never seen anything like it. I could turn in a full circle and see fireworks rising above the neighborhood at every angle. As the sun dipped lower and night began to fall, the fireworks just multiplied. By then there were constant explosions echoing down our street. We walked to a little park area near our house and stood there for a long time, watching in amazement. There were people in the park setting off fireworks, and people in the distance. It was like every neighborhood within view had at least a few people with a pretty decent stash of explosives.

“Look, the moon,” I said, pointing. The moon was rising in the sky, full and bright. Paul took some pictures of it, surrounded by fireworks. I don’t know yet how the photos turned out, but the visual effect was pretty breathtaking.

A little before 11pm I finally decided I needed to go in the house and get ready for bed. The fireworks displays were still in full swing. I went in the house, where the cats were not nearly as thrilled with the unexpected celebrations as I was. They calmed down quickly once I shut some windows and climbed into bed.

And I drifted off to sleep, the fireworks booming outside my window.