Monday, March 28, 2011

Bye to the Bou, part II

Sunday, March 27th was my last day working at Caribou. I woke up, exhausted from coming home from London the day before, went to work, opened the store, and left WITHOUT MY KEY. It was the longest shift ever, but it is done! It was a nice day to work - people were really friendly, and I didn't have many frustrating moments.

For a moment as I was leaving, and as I took my key off the keychain, and was saying goodbye to some of my favorite coworkers, I almost got a little emotional. The people I worked with there were great, and I really am going to miss them all. There are some regulars who I will miss as well. Mostly, I am going to look back on it with fond memories. However, I am relieved to not have to worry about smelling like coffee all the time. Showering after work was like being surrounded by steamed coffee, and coffee smell saturated my wardrobe (and often spread to the entire closet).

Anyway, that's done. 2 1/2 years later, I can throw away my old, dirty, worn out non-slip shoes and my coffee-stained shirts with "Caribou Coffee" written all over. No more angry customers telling me their latte was wrong, or telling me that their "mint condition" was supposed to be over ice, or that they wanted the white chocolate and LESS chocolate instead of the milk... And I am looking forward to being able to go and study in Caribou again. I couldn't do it while I worked there because it was just like going to work. I have my coffee shop studying atmosphere back!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"I would have called....but I was in LONDON!!"

Chris and I just got home from London. Can I just tell you that it is most definitely the coolest city I have ever been to? I am in love with London. Really really in love. We have done these weekend trips before, to Tokyo and Dublin...but I am truly going to miss London, and I am looking forward to going back someday.

First, we flew business class there, which is like a vacation all by itself. A fancy menu, good service, a down pillow and blanket, slipper socks, an eye mask for sleeping, tooth brush/toothpaste/lotion/chapstick/tissue in a little ditty big, a seat that reclines all the way flat, and free movies (including ones that are still in theaters - like the King's Speech!). Awesome. The service is excellent and non-stop... they give us a warm assortment of nuts before the four course meal, and a hot towel to wash up with. A choice of delicious sounding dinners, and appetizer, a salad, and desserts, and then a pre-landing meal, and they bring warm cookies too!

We landed, and it was very simple to navigate our way around. We went right to the hotel, took a short nap (we weren't able to sleep on the plane really - it was too much fun), then we got up and walked around downtown London. Our hotel was half a mile from Big Ben, so we went around a corner and there it was!! That night we went and saw Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the Palace before walking back and having dinner at an awesome pub, with excellent food. The only odd thing (cultural difference?) was that the hotel did not have washcloths, and when we went to the front desk to ask for one, they did not even know what we were talking about. Remedy: We bought a loofah sponge at a local drugstore ...and problem solved (still..never heard of a washcloth?). All that aside, the sights in London are incredible. The buildings are old and beautiful, and parliament and Big Ben and Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace were breathtaking. The Queen's guards were there and all. :)

While we were out and about I bought an Arsenal scarf for myself. I started to wear it around when it got dark because it was cold, and we were going to eat at a pub about a block away from Big Ben when I noticed the sign on the front "No Football Attire". That's how seriously they take their sports there! But there are 5 or 6 Premiere League teams in London. So, we headed to the other pub for dinner.

Day Two: we started by heading to the Tower of London. Incredible history - we could have spent all day there. A Yeoman Warder (beefeater) gave us a tour - telling us about the various important events at the Tower of London, the famous deaths (executions), history being the Traitor's gate, who is buried in the church, how long the Monarchy lived there, the undertaking, the 6 ravens that live there, what his uniform means (over 25 years of military service! and it costs 1,500 pounds!), the crown jewels (apparently, the diamond on the royal scepter is over 530 karats), the rack (for torture), the armory... it was fascinating. I bought some tea (I can't wait to try it!) because we were in London, after all. The Tower Bridge was beautiful also. Our Yeoman threw in some quips for the Americans on the tour ("That's Tower Bridge, not London Bridge, for the Americans out there"), and he looked exactly like my father-in-law. What's even more strange is that his name was Bob as well. Crazy. After leaving the Tower of London, we headed over to the same pub we went to the night before and had some fish 'n' chips - the BEST fish 'n' chips I have ever had, and probably will ever have! They were incredibly delicious. After lunch it was over to the British museum. We barely scratched the surface of all that they had there. The exhibits were really need - ancient Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Babylon, Assyria... We could have spent all day there, too! The Museum closed at 5:30, at which time we took the train down to the Arsenal Stadium to snap a few pictures before heading back up towards the theater district (and near our hotel) where we went to the Apollo Victoria Theater and saw Wicked! What an amazing show. I loved every minute of it! The singing was phenomenal. It was nice how easy the subway system was to navigate - we were able to make our way from one end of the city to the other without any troubles.

After the show we went to bed, and woke up at 6 a.m. to leave to the airport for our flight. I was sad to be leaving. On all of the other short trips we have taken to foreign countries, I felt as though we accomplished quite a bit for the short time we were there, but that is not the case with London. There is so much more I wanted to see and do, I really hope I get the opportunity to go back there and spend some more time in the city. I loved every minute of the trip, and even though it wore me out, it was absolutely worth it! Chris wants to go back for an Arsenal game, and I think that would be a great idea :) It would be a lot of fun to go to a game where the fans are as enthusiastic as the people in England are. If you are able to spend some time in London, I highly highly recommend it! (Also, pictures are coming!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Don't Burn Bridges?

So, as mentioned in a previous post, I have quit my job at Caribou. However, that means that I am on my bosses bad side. It's obvious why, but I just wish he wouldn't take it so personally that I am quitting. Is it mostly his fault, because he is not capable of putting together one schedule that I can consistently work? Maybe. But does that mean that I don't like him as a person, and that I am suddenly going to stop working just because it is my last couple of shifts? No. But he is acting almost vindictive towards me.

For example, I got into work today for my second-to-last shift, and there I find a note in the back that says "Katie: this needs to be inventoried tonight" - with a 6-page list attached to it of all the items that I need to inventory. First of all, I haven't done inventory in over two years, and second, is it presumptuous of him to assume that I know how to do it because it was not at the current store I am at that I did inventory. So, as you can imagine, I was slightly put-out. 6 pages worth of inventory material? Seriously? With no warning? Ugh. But I did it - because you are not supposed to burn bridges. You never know when you will run into that person in the future. But it seems like he is trying to burn the bridge, whether I want to or not. *sigh*.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Three Little Pigs are revisited, and I find myself sad at the current state of America

In case you haven't heard the story, I will quote it here for you:

Once there were three little pigs who lived in a country with housing shortage. All the condominiums and apartments had long been occupied, and houses were as rare as dodos.

The three little pigs decided to build their own home. But having seen how building a house together had ruined so many relationships all around them, they thought it safer for each to build his own ideal home. This way, each could be creative without the others telling him that his ideas were dumb.

Unfortunately, in addition to a severe housing shortage, their country also suffered from an economic recession. There were no more building materials, because the forests had long been cut down and the quarries mined dry. The three little pigs would have to use other materials.

The first little pig towed his wagon around every day collecting old newspapers. After a week, he had enough to build himself a house. It wasn't the most sturdy of homes, but the first little pig liked it because it was educational. He could sit at home in the evenings and read the walls. One thing he had to be careful about, though, was building fires. He became an expert outdoor chef.

The second little pig collected aluminum cans. He built his home by stacking the cans together. His house was comfortable most of the time except during midday, when it would be as hot as an oven inside. The second little pig didn't mind. He loved the sound of raindrops falling on his tin roof. It made him feel luckier than his brother, whose newspaper house would collapse and have to be rebuilt every time it rained.

The third little pig learned from the Indians how to make adobe bricks. For months he labored over making an adobe house. It was the dream house he had always wanted. It shielded him from the hot sun and kept him safe from wind and rain. When he was hungry, he nibbled on the straw sticking out of the wall, tidying his house as he ate.

One day, a wolf, who had been chased out of his apartment because he hadn't paid the rent for three months, came upon the first little pig's newspaper house.

"Little pig, little pig, let me come in!" he cried.

"Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin," the first little pig answered.

"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"

So he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew all the newspapers away, exposing the first little pig clutching the sports section to his chest.

The first little pig took one look at the wolf and ran. He ran as fast as his four short legs could carry him to his brother's aluminum house, with the wolf hot on his curly tail. Just in time, he reached his brother's home, and they slammed in the last few aluminum cans, sealing themselves inside.

Now that he had two little pigs instead of one to handle, the wolf cried, "Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in!"

"Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin," replied the two pigs in unison.

"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"

So he huffed, and he puffed, and he scattered the aluminum cans all over the landscape. While the wolf stumbled over the cans, the two little pigs took off like two shots for their brother's adobe home.

The third little pig was sunning himself outside his adobe home when who should come running along but his two silly brothers who had built paper and aluminum houses.

"Oh, darn," he said to himself. "I knew they would have to move in with me one of these days. But couldn't they have waited a bit longer?"

Then, to his surprise, they told him that the wolf was going to eat them all up unless he saved them.

They ran inside the house, and the third little pig latched the door. Soon the wolf caught up and cried his familiar line, "Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in!"

"Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin," the three little pigs said together.

"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"

So the wolf huffed, and he puffed. He huffed, and he puffed again. And again. And again. But he couldn't blow that sturdy adobe house down.

The three little pigs stood by the window gleefully watching the wolf puffing himself silly. But suddenly, as they watched in horror, the wolf collapsed, clutching his chest.

"Oh, no!" said the first little pig. "What's wrong with him?"

"I think he's having a heart attack," said the second little pig.

"We must save him," said the third little pig. "We can't let him die!"

"Save him.?" cried the first and second little pigs together. "Are you crazy?"

"If we don't, his relatives will sue us. Pretty soon, we'll have every wolf in town knocking on our door. So come on!"

The three little pigs opened the door and went out to help the wolf. While the first little pig counted, the second and third little pigs performed CPR on the unconscious wolf. After a while, the wolf stirred and sat up.

When the three little pigs saw that the wolf had recovered, they made for the safety of the house once more. But before they could slam the door shut, the wolf said, "Why are you afraid of me?"

The three little pigs did a double take. "Pigs are supposed to be afraid of wolves," they said. "Don't you want to eat us up?"

The wolf guffawed. "Pork chops? No thanks, I'm a vegetarian."

"Oh? So why were you chasing us and blowing our houses down?" asked the first little pig.

"I only wanted to move in with you," said the wolf. "And I wanted to find out if your house is solid enough for me. I see that this one is."

"If you wanted to move in with us, why didn't you just say so?" The second little pig threw up his front paws in exasperation.

"But I did! I asked you to let me in," said the wolf.

"You didn't say please. And you shouldn't have asked so aggressively," the first little pig rebutted.

"He's right. And you should have said exactly what you meant. You shouldn't beat around the bush like that," the second little pig scolded.

"All right, all right," intervened the third little pig. "It's all a lack of communication. Let's start all over again, shall we?" He turned to the wolf. "Now say your line."

The wolf cleared his throat and said solemnly. "Little pigs, little pigs, may I move in with you?" He looked around at the three little pigs and when they didn't reply, he added, "Please?"

The three little pigs nodded.

So the wolf and the first two little pigs helped the third little pig remodel the adobe house so that there was room for all of them. They learned the importance of cooperation and communication, and they all lived together happily ever after.


So, I must say, that this is extremely sad. The story of the three little pigs is now about making an "educational house" out of old newspaper and a house out if tin cans (sounds kind of like driving a smart car on the highway). Incredible. It's about "failed communication" and a vegetarian wolf. Oh my goodness. What other stories are we going to butcher next? Cinderella and Prince Charming get divorced after he runs out and leaves her with the kids? Hansel and Gretel start eating a house of vegetables with fat-free ranch dip instead of candy? Come on.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Every once in a great while...

Every once in a great while, there will be an incredible person in your life who you have spent years with and have thousands of memories with. Those people are rare. Outside of family (and spouse), there are very few people who have been in my life for years, the kind of person who really is more like family than a friend; but I value those people immensely. I had a great friend who I don't think there are hardly any memories without during my junior high, high school and college years. We had a falling out, and it's just so silly that I really don't remember why or what or any details... I just know that I wish it hadn't happened, because I missed her presence in my life.

It is weird how you can not know somebody at all, meet them, spend a few years with them, and then it's like there is something missing when they are no longer there. That's how I felt. It was an unwelcome feeling. There were some rough times in the past couple of years that I could have used a friend like that. When you move to a new place, it's not easy to make friends. Especially once you are older and married, because it seems like all of the other young married people are too involved with what is going on in their lives, and the people who are your age and not married are living the single life, staying out late, doing things that I was no longer interested in doing. I felt kind of stuck in the middle of two worlds, getting to know people my age, but not really. I was making the kind of friends that you see once or twice a week, have a nice conversation with, and then move on. It is just plain harder to make friends once you leave college (and I know I am still in college, but graduate school is a whole different world).

Anyway, a really cool thing happened a little while ago. This friend of mine came back in to my life; it was sudden, but it was as though nothing had ever happened before. And I can't tell you how happy I am to be rebuilding that friendship...even if it is never where it once was. I missed having her as a friend, and I am so happy to have her back! I think sometimes you are just meant to be in somebody's life, and I am ok with that :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bye to the Bou

I have been working at Caribou for the last 2 1/2 years, as many of you know. 2 1/2 years is a very long time to be working at a retail job...some people don't even stay at a real-life career job for that long.

Things were fine for the first 10 months or so, and then they fired probably the best manager Caribou will ever find. Then when went through a series of abusive managers... one who literally physically abused some employees and broke more rules than are actually in the handbook (and who, by the way, continued to be supported by her manager...who just loves people who suck up to her). Long story short, she was gone. When she was fired, I was working over 40 hours a week for a while. Then, we got a new manager, who was the definition of lazy. It's pretty bad when you go into work after the boss and you spend the time cleaning up. During this manager, I transferred to a different Caribou store. While that helped for a little while, it turned into just more or a struggle. Apparently, my schedule was suddenly too "difficult" to work around, even though I required no more than 18 hours a week. After weeks and weeks of feeling like every single schedule was a struggle, and realizing that it really wasn't worth the stress on my life (and the worse grades), I gave my two weeks to my boss yesterday.

I GAVE MY TWO WEEKS TO MY BOSS YESTERDAY. That feels nice to say. It's so relieving.

For a while, when I was at work, I wasn't sure if I could quit, or if I wanted to quit. I felt happy at work for the first time in a while... then, I remember something my father-in-law had told me. When he was working at a previous job, one of the people he worked with committed suicide, and he worked with the guy who committed suicide the night that he did it. I asked the natural question, did he guy seem upset or disturbed at work? My father-in-law answered that he seemed perfectly content, normal, happy...they had no idea that he was planning to kill himself. While this is an extremely sad and painful situation, I think that it relates to anytime we make a life-changing decision. I had made the decision to quit Caribou, and I was very much at peace with my decision, giving the false illusion that I didn't want to quit. Then, an angry customer came in...and I remembered why I wanted to be done :) (on top of school work, volunteer work, and church).

Big decision... but my last week is going to be the week of the 23rd. I'm looking forward to more clinic time, and feeling able to go to church without the pressure of having papers to write, etc, because I'll be able to do it on a different day instead of Sunday. :)

Speaking of which, off to read some articles for a cochlear implants project/formal paper. Have a good weekend, all.