Friday, October 31, 2008

Ballard: The Good Life

I've been adjusting quite well to life in my new neighborhood, and a former classmate recently summed up my transition for me: "Queen Anne is the fast life. Ballard is the good life." I definitely agree, and apparently I'm not the only one.

This week, Ballard made it into the national spotlight, with a beautiful shot of the farmer's market on the front page of the New York Times web site.

The picture linked to an article on Ballard and Fremont, highlighting their "independent-minded kind" and "unique character that still resists complete assimilation." Nice. The Times says each neighborhood is undergoing a kind of "21st-centry renaissance, with shops and restaurants moving in, and a new, often young crowd arriving to live or just to play." (Hey, that's me!)

Love it. Ballard is definitely the good life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Orange is the new black

In building construction, topping out is a ceremony held when the last beam is placed at the top of a building, and a topping out ceremony is usually held to commemorate the event. Since I now work in commercial real estate development, one of my duties is to coordinate these types of events. So yesterday I went down to Olympia with a co-worker to set up a party at one of my company's building sites... quite different than all the party planning that I've done before! First, we fed the large construction crew lunch. They seemed very confused and intrigued by the 20-something girls in hard hats wandering around their construction site. Then, the ceremony began: Here's how it goes...

The last support beam to be hoisted is painted white and signed by all the workmen involved, as well as everyone else who attends the ceremony. I was very proud of my first building signature!

A tree or leafy branch is placed on the topmost beam, often with flags and streamers tied to it. Then it's hoisted up to the top of the building while everyone toasts and cheers.

I'm very pleased that I was able to pull off my first topping out event. And I've decided that I look fantastic in a construction site getup. Orange is definitely the new black.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Friday Night Rendezvous

Why someone would name a restaurant “BJ’s,” I have no idea, but in any case, my friend Crystal organized a Friday night rendezvous at the brand new BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Southcenter Mall last weekend.

When our large group sat down, of course the first thing the boys did was torment our poor waitress with comments like, “So… what’s the special… at BJ’s?” followed by inappropriate snickering. Oh Lord. It seemed we had quite a rowdy group, so it was probably good that they sat us in a back area separated from the main dining room.

Even though I’m not a fan of the name, I did have a great evening at BJ’s. They had a ton of different beers and a menu the size of a novel filled with loads of yummy comfort foods. So we ordered drinks… appetizers… more drinks… food… more drinks… dessert… more drinks. We ended up staying for about four hours, talking and laughing until we basically closed down the restaurant. Yum, yum, a simply scrumptious evening.

The only downfall? Since we had a large party they automatically added gratuity onto our bill. Therefore, I did not tip on top of it. However, I just looked at my bank statement and our lovely waitress took the liberty of adding on an additional tip of her own choice amount. Ooooooh, this type of thing really ticks me right off! It’s not the $10 that bugs me, it’s the feeling that I was taken advantage of. I just called the manager and am waiting for a call back. If this is not resolved, I will not be visiting BJ’s again…

Monday, October 27, 2008

Good intentions, bad results

I went grocery shopping last night with the goal of planning out some healthy meals for the week. Even though I'm not generally a fan, I decided to include some breakfast foods. And for some reason, while walking up and down the produce isles, I decided to pick up a couple grapefruits. They just looked yummy, fresh, bright and citrusy piled there between the oranges and pineapples. And besides, isn’t grapefruit supposed to be part of some miracle diet that causes you to lose 10 pounds in 10 days or something?

So this morning at work I was feeling quite productive and healthy as I sat down with my half grapefruit and cup of green tea. Yeah… I have no idea what I was thinking. I somehow failed to remember that I hate grapefruit. It tastes very yucky. In general, it is very sour and bitter at the same time, and the tiny bit of sweetness you get is not even close to a reward. No matter how much Splenda you sprinkle on top, the taste is just horrible, kind of like drinking orange juice right after brushing your teeth.

In addition, I somehow managed to cut it the wrong way (come on Sarah, how hard is cutting a grapefruit in half?) which meant I really had to dig for each foul little bite. As a result, I now have grapefruit juice splattered all over my desk and keyboard. One nasty little drop even made it directly into my eye. This was not the morning I had hoped for. I think I have a case of the Mondays.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Home Sweet Home

For all you out-of-towners, and for those of you who haven't made it over yet, here are a few pics of our new home!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fried Chicken

When my class ended early last night I excitedly rushed to the bus stop, expecting to catch an earlier bus home. Unfortunately, the bus was running late and I had to sit at the stop for 25 minutes (it was very cold) until a route going to Ballard arrived.

As we neared Ballard, a woman dragging several suitcases, carts and bags of God-knows-what got on the bus (forcing the driver to use the lift, which is supposed to be reserved for disabled people). The woman then went on for two or three minutes about why she was unable to pay the fare. Exasperated, the driver told her to sit down and we were on our way. However, Bag Lady continued to ramble. She explained to the driver that since she had not eaten all day and was very tired, it was absolutely imperative that he stop the bus directly in front of KFC. She could not be forced to drag all her items a half block from the designated bus stop. And could he please hurry up? After all, KFC closes at 9:30 and if he hustled, she could just about make it.

Are you freaking kidding me? And the most ludicrous part is that the bus driver obliged this woman! She got a free ride and a customized stop off for a bucket of chicken! No wonder the bus was running late, if the driver was taking requests all evening. Grrrr. I mean, I know I’m helping to save the Earth and everything by using public transportation, but I’m beginning to reach my limit. And now I’m craving fried chicken.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Boyfriend v. Kitty

I have written about my attention whore of a cat before, but at the request of a reader I’d like to take a moment elaborate on yesterday’s “training my boyfriend and my cat to coexist is going to be an uphill battle” comment.

I’d like to first point out that Boyfriend loves animals. However, owning pets does not quite fit in with his obsessively clean, borderline OCD personality. So the following items have been constant issues since the three of us moved in together:
  • Kitty sometimes darts from one end of the condo to another – This causes Boyfriend to freak and examine the brand new hardwood floors for scratches.
  • Boyfriend then suggests getting Kitty declawed – This causes me to freak, because I think declawing cats is incredibly horrible and mean.
  • Kitty lounges peacefully on Boyfriend’s couch, contentedly kneading the leather – Boyfriend does not appreciate all the tiny scratches and holes in his couch this is causing.
  • Boyfriend hates the idea of a litter box, but this is obviously unavoidable with an indoor cat – I’m attempting to clean said litter box on a daily basis.
  • Even though the litter box is always clean, I can’t seem to stop Kitty from tracking litter all over the condo – Boyfriend (obviously) hates this.
  • Boyfriend will not allow Kitty to sleep on our bed, because she leaves fur all over the bedding – However, Kitty is used to sleeping on the bed with me.
  • Kitty has since been locked out of the bedroom at night – This causes her to cry, scratch at the door, and cause mischief all night… Boyfriend is not pleased (we’ve even found litter tracked up on top of our brand new dining room table… eek!)
  • Kitty has managed to completely tear up Boyfriend’s area rug, using it as a scratching post – I think she does this during her midnight mischief.
  • Boyfriend is constantly threatening to throw Kitty off the deck – This annoys me to no end and has caused me to start throwing back nasty comments at Boyfriend (who I generally adore).
However, apart from these general annoyances, I think Boyfriend generally likes having Kitty around. Kitty is very talkative and the two of them sometimes have quite animated conversations. Kitty also appears to like Boyfriend more than she likes me, often choosing his lap over mine when we’re lounging on the couch. It’s just all those bothersome “cat behaviors” that I’m going to have to figure out. So far, I’ve done the following:
  • Researched how to trim a cat’s claws (have not gotten around to actually doing it yet).
    Purchased a cat bed, which we now place at the foot of our own bed and have trained Kitty to sleep in it (thereby alleviating midnight mischief and meowing).
  • Set up a scratching box thing (not working at all, need to purchase an actual scratching post ASAP).
  • Bought a “litter box rug” that supposedly catches litter as Kitty exits the box (not absolutely sure this is working yet, but it seems to be at least helping).
  • Threatened to leave Boyfriend if he mentions throwing Kitty off deck one more time (I wish he thought I was serious).
Bottom line: Kitty needs to start cooperating. Frankly, she’s completely spoiled and has no idea how good she has it. I rescued her from the Humane Society for a life indoors eating all the food she wants. I even clean up after her when she shits… can you imagine a better life? I think a little appreciation is in order. Also, both Kitty and Boyfriend need to take a little lesson in, “Can’t we just all get along?”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Things I learned this weekend

  • Mill Creek is a much livelier place than I suspected
  • The food at the People’s Pub is absolutely amazing
  • Finding the perfect wine rack is proving to be much more difficult than originally anticipated
  • Training my boyfriend and my cat to coexist is going to be an uphill battle
  • English gravy is quite yummy
  • Donating two carloads of stuff to charity feels amazingly refreshing
  • Sometimes a person’s reputation can spread much further than they realize
  • A wash cycle takes longer than a dryer cycle in my new machines… strange
  • Taking a walk through downtown Ballard on a sunny afternoon is my new favorite weekend activity
  • Sunny Teriyaki is nowhere near as scrumptious as Yummy Teriyaki
  • Dealing with Comcast and their erroneous billing is super annoying
  • Being in school causes one’s social life to take a serious decline… sad
  • Our gorgeous view will not, as we feared, disappear in September 2009
  • Simply writing a weekend “to-do” list doesn’t mean that everything will get done
  • I heart Ballard even more than I adored Queen Anne, I think…

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's been a rough year...

After watching our poor pathetic Seahawks lose yet another game last night, I was sad and embarrassed to hear one of the commentators sum things up for our city:

"So, the Seahawks are one and five, the Huskies are zero and six, the Mariners have lost 101 games, and their basketball team moved to Oklahoma City. It's been a rough year for Seattle."

Why yes, yes it has. Thanks for pointing that out. Ugh, totally tragic.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My trip to the suburbs

To celebrate the birthday of my dear friend Tara, on Friday night I trekked up to La Palmera in Mill Creek for dinner and drinks. Now, I admit to being fairly snobby about leaving the general downtown Seattle vicinity for a weekend night out, but birthdays are definitely an exception. And WOW... this time, I was in for a treat.

I've been to Mill Creek a couple of times during the day before, but I had no idea it had any kind of night life. However, our directions led us to an adorable little town center area jam packed with shops, restaurants and bars. La Palmera was located smack dab in the center, and Tara had reserved enough tables for about 20 people to sit in the bar.

It seemed as though every resident of Mill Creek had decided to hit up the La Palmera bar that evening. It was, apparently, a "fight night" of some sort -- a boxing match followed by ultimate fighting was on every TV in eyesight. Yummy food, music, sports, chatting and lots of laughing filled the next couple of hours. Then things started to get interesting.

Apparently one guy had taken "fight night" a little too seriously and let testosterone get the better of him. We were suddenly alerted to two huge security guards dragging a kicking and screaming mid-20s male down the stairs and out the door of the restaurant.

From our prime viewpoint out the windows of the upstairs bar, we watched as Crazy Guy attempted to walk back into the restaurant several times. Innocent bystanders went in and out around him, and he tried to pick a fight with each one of them. After about the fourth time, one bouncer knocked him in the side of the head. This caused Crazy Guy to march through the doors once again. Bouncer had had enough by this time. He shoved hard with both hands, and Crazy Guy went flying backward, landing squarely on his ass. Of course this pissed him right off. He jumped up and lunged for the bouncer, who was easily twice his size. But before he had a chance to make contact, a bystander came out of nowhere and seemed to toss Crazy Guy in the air... who then went tumbling down a set of stone steps and landed, not moving, on the sidewalk. Talk about a sucker punch.

Wow. I felt like I had gotten lost and ended up in Pioneer Square. I had no idea shenanigans like this went on in the Mill Creek suburbs. Drama, drama, drama. I think next time I'll stay safely in downtown Seattle. In case you are concerned about Crazy Guy's fate, the police arrived shortly afterward and hauled him off. He was walking and seemed to be doing fine, although I bet next time he won't be taking "fight night" so literally.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nerd Alert

Although I’ve done a fair amount of complaining since starting my Paralegal classes at the UW, I am really loving being in school again. I hate spending extra hours on the bus every day and I hate getting home late almost every weeknight, but for those nine hours a week that I’m in class, I’m really enjoying myself!

The only problem is that I’m supposed to be spending three hours outside of class for every hour that I spend in class, and let’s be honest… I just haven’t done that so far. So when I turned in my first assignment on Tuesday night I wasn’t feeling overly confident about it. It could have been right on, or alternately, completely off-base.

Last night, the assignment was returned to me. COVERED with red ink. My stomach dropped for a second before I looked closer and realized… I had received a perfect score! Apparently my instructor just loves to give feedback, whether it be negative or positive. Phew! I can’t tell you the sense of relief I felt as I read the “Impressive work – Nice job!” at the bottom of the paper. And to top everything off, there was a red “STAR STUDENT” stamp on top of the paper. How elementary school, but it still put a silly smile on my face. What a nerd.

Now I just have to keep it up until June…

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Something to Consider

I think I might buy myself some pepper spray.

Let me back up. I’ve always considered downtown Seattle to be a very safe place. I never think twice about walking home from a bar at 2am or parking my car and walking alone a few blocks in the dark to a restaurant to meet friends. And whenever I hear a creepy story about a girl getting abducted at Green Lake… I kind of just put it out of my mind, naively thinking it could never happen to me, because “that girl must have been doing something stupid and/or unsafe.”

But lately I’ve been thinking more about being a woman in Seattle. Maybe I’ve just been really, really lucky. My boyfriend and I rarely fight, but some of the biggest arguments we’ve gotten into have been because I’ve chosen to walk someplace in the dark, by myself. I’m of the opinion, “It’s fine, it was just a few blocks and I’m in my own neighborhood.” He is of the opinion, “Do you know how easy it would be for someone to pull you into a van, rape and kill you?!” But that would never happen. Right?

Ever since I moved to Ballard I have been feeling a little more cautious. Probably because my new schedule is keeping me out later, and as winter approaches it is getting darker so much earlier. And since I have class most nights after work and don’t get home until 10pm, I have to walk a few blocks from the bus stop in the dark to get home. And as I walk down the dark, cold street past several alleys and vacant buildings I feel slightly creeped out.

Last night I had to go to the UW law library and was there pretty late. Even though the area is well-lit, I still felt mildly uncomfortable walking across campus in the dark through the pouring rain. I clutched my bag, purse and cell phone and hustled as fast as I could to the safety of my car. It probably didn’t help that I had gotten together with a girlfriend earlier who had told me that she recently took shooting lessons and is getting her concealed weapons permit because she is so scared to be living alone.

So I wonder… am I being paranoid? Or has my naivety finally worn off and I’m seeing the world for the scary place it actually is? Either way, I don’t think purchasing some pepper spray would hurt.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dog's Breath

A few months ago I went to dinner with some girlfriends. At the end of the meal, I pulled out my brand new Clinique lip gloss for reapplication. One of the girls I was with immediately shrieked, “Ewww… I have that same lip gloss, it smells disgusting!!” She pulled out her own Clinique lip gloss to demonstrate. Of course we all took a sniff and yep… the distinct scent of dog’s breath – unmistakable and disgusting!! However, a comparison smell of my own lip gloss revealed that my brand new tube smelled like… nothing. Very strange.

My friend had purchased her lip gloss a few months ago, and after a few more sniffs, giggles and “ewwwws!” we wrote the whole thing off as what must have been a bogus batch of lip gloss. Way to go, Clinique. And I haven’t thought about it since.

Until this morning, when on my way out the door I casually grabbed some lip gloss out of a drawer, applied it to my lips… and immediately smelled DOG’S BREATH! Sick, sick, sick!! I couldn’t believe it! My very same tube of Clinique lip gloss had, over the past couple months, apparently gone bad just like my friend’s! What a bizarre thing to happen to a tube of lip gloss. And disappointing, too, because I really like Clinique’s lip gloss; it’s shiny and much less sticky than other brands.

The other day someone made fun of me for having a tube of watermelon flavored Lip Smackers in my bag. Well yeah, it might be made for 10-year-olds, but at least it doesn’t smell like dog’s breath. Gross.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Relaxing weekend ahead?

If only this weekend included just ONE more day… My list of scheduled activities is already ridiculously long:

  • Little Brother’s rugby game
  • Homework - reading
  • Pick up new furniture
  • Homework – case brief
  • Kelly & Amy’s birthday party
  • Shannon’s birthday party
  • Homework - reading
  • SATC style brunch and pedicures with Sister and Cousin
  • Homework – library research
  • Watch Seahawk’s game
  • Homework – project 1
  • Lily’s birthday party
  • Homework – Westlaw training
  • Unpacking and organizing

How I will get everything done, I have no idea. But I’m glad I have quite a few fun things to take care of… in between a crazy amount of homework! Yeesh.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Changing Seasons

One of the great things about moving is it generally forces you to go through things you've been putting off. In my case this meant my closet. And moving my wardrobe into my brand new walk-in allowed me to fully realize exactly how many sweaters and sweatshirts I own. And with all the newfound space, I was able to stack them all up neatly and easily pick out a cream colored turtleneck sweater to wear to work today. I figured it's been so cold and nasty out a comfy sweater was just what the doctor ordered.

So I got dressed, layered on a brown wool coat and went into the bedroom to tell Stewie goodbye. Sleepily, he opened one eye and looked at me. "Well don't you look professional," he mumbled. "You look like a fall catalog." Laughing, I made my way through the crisp air to the bus stop. On the way I had to admit to myself, a little sadly, that autumn has officially arrived. Brrr.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

New Digs!

I have no idea how we did it, but somehow, somehow, we made it through the past week. My to-do list filled an entire 8.5x11 sheet of paper. Single spaced, 10 point font. And I’ve finally got everything crossed off! Oh, except that pesky little “Homework for next week” line item. Oops.

I tried to have everything all packed up the weekend prior, since I currently have class from 6pm to 9pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. That means those days were officially out. But leaving the house at 7am, working all day, riding a bus for an hour to the U. District, sitting in class for three hours, getting home to Queen Anne and then proceeding to eat dinner and do homework until midnight has already started to take a toll on me (as one can imagine).

But I made it through the week and we headed down to IKEA on Friday night to pick up our new bed. Thus, we encountered our first problem. Although I had hoped for the best, there was no way in hell the boxes we had already paid for were going to fit in my car. Oh, and the store was closing in five minutes. Luckily, we managed to get the store to hold the bed overnight and have a friend pick it up with a truck in the morning. Phew. Tragedy averted.

Saturday morning started at 7am with a final run to Fred Meyer to pick up last-minute items including, of course, an ample supply of beer for the volunteer movers. U-Haul pickup was at 9am. Friends arrived promptly at 10am to first load up my apartment and then Stewart’s. We also managed to fill to bursting two cars with my clothes and miscellaneous items.

We had another little disaster in the parking garage, where Stewart’s friend managed to back Stew’s car out almost perfectly… leaving behind one mirror, shaved off by a cement pole. Oops. But finally, we were on our way to our new Ballard home, where everyone took a break for pizza, beer and tequila shots before unloading the truck. I think everything was in by about 6pm – not too shabby!

The evening then consisted of taking extra furniture items over to my sister’s house in Eastlake for storage, and returning the truck. Then we celebrated with more drinks and the boys made it down to The Old Peculiar. I couldn’t drag myself away from unpacking, but I did go pick them up later and we made our first stop at the neighborhood Dick’s Drive In.

So we are finally home! A little worse for wear I suppose (a couple co-workers have already commented on how tired I look), but it feels so great to be done! I’m a little anxious about how behind I now am in my schoolwork, but I am going to spend this evening at the UW Law Library catching up.

Many thanks to everyone who helped / stopped by / brought gifts to us this weekend, it really meant a lot to us! We can’t wait to have everyone over to show off our new home!

I heart Ballard.