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pierAt the end of January, my little cousin’s Flat Stanley unexpectedly arrived at my door. Having just spent two weeks with my friend and her nephew’s Flat Stanley in Kenya, I was elated to have a turn with him and show him my life in Los Angeles.

Flat Stanley and I had such a great time when he came to visit. He was with me for a couple months, so we visited a lot of sites in Southern California.ferris wheel

 

I live in Santa Monica, so I had to take him to the famous Santa Monica Pier, which is known for its lighted Ferris wheel. Santa Monica is also known for its wonderful beaches, shopping and dining on Third Street Promenade and frequent movie star sightings.

city hall

 

 

 

 

He happened to be visiting me during a week I was summoned for jury duty. It’s against the law to take pictures inside the courtroom, so here is Flat Stanley outside Santa Monica City Hall. After two days of juror selection, I was dismissed. I was not selected to be a juror for the case.

broncos

 

Flat Stanley also happened to be visiting when our Denver Broncos played in the Super Bowl. We cheered them on during the game. Unfortunately our cheering didn’t do any good because the Broncos lost pretty bad against the Seattle Seahawks.

The last bit of fun we had was up in Big Bear, California, which is a two-hour drive from Santa Monica. Big Bear is a small mountain town with a couple ski resorts, similar to some of the mountain towns in Colorado. There we did some snowboarding in warm spring weather at Bear Mountain Resort. It’s not as nice as Colorado ski resorts and the snow wasn’t as good, but it was still fun. Here Stanley is on a ski lift with me; he wasn’t afraid of heights at all.

chair lift 2

 

Flat Stanley’s last day in Southern California was spent with me at work in West LA, which is about three miles from my apartment. I am the Editorial Manager to a team of six editors and designers at a market research firm. Stanley got to see our big, 11th-floor office that we moved into just this past November. While I worked, he hung out with me at my corner desk that has great views to the left and in front.

 

Thanks for visiting Flat Stanley! And thanks to Tim and Ms. Dunn’s class at Traylor Academy in Denver for letting him spend some time with me in Southern California. I hope you all learn a lot!

desk

 

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Thanks Adi Zarsadias for a great piece that totally resonates with me.
I took your words and came up with some of my own.
………………………………………………………

She’s the one with the messy unkempt hair colored by the sun. Her skin is now far from fair like it once was. Not even sun kissed. It has tan lines, freckles, scars and battle wounds. But for every flaw on her skin, she has an interesting story to tell.

Don’t date a girl who travels. She is hard to please. The usual dinner-movie date at the mall will suck the life out of her. Her soul craves for new experiences and adventures. She will be unimpressed with your flashy, new material things. She would rather climb a rock or jump out of an airplane than to spend money on “things” that will be outdated in five months. She would rather reminisce about past adventures and dream about those to come, than hear you brag about your penthouse on Wall Street.

Don’t date a girl who travels because she will bug you to check the latest music festival lineup. She will ask you to see another Dave Matthews Band show, because 25 isn’t enough. She doesn’t care about partying at Rehab or getting into the latest clubs because she knows that one weekend of clubbing is equivalent to one week somewhere far more exciting.

Don’t date a girl who travels because she will be gone with the next airline seat sale. She lives paycheck to paycheck to fund her jet-setting ways. And she only works so she has the funds. She doesn’t want to keep working her ass off for someone else’s dream. She has her own and is working toward it. She is a freelancer. She makes money from designing, writing, photography or something that requires creativity and imagination. But she doesn’t work like a robot all day, she goes out and takes what life has to offer and challenges you to do the same.

Don’t date a girl who travels for she has chosen a life of uncertainty. She doesn’t have a long-term plan or a permanent address. She goes with the flow and follows her heart. She dances to the beat of her own drum. She rarely wears a watch. And when she does, she never checks the time. Her days are ruled by the sun and the moon. When the world calls, life stops and she will be oblivious to everything else for a moment.

Don’t date a girl who travels because she will never need you – or at least will say she doesn’t need help. She knows how to change a flat tire, pitch a tent and can carry all her own gear. She eats well and doesn’t need you to pay for her meals. She is too independent. Although she hopes you will travel with her, your absence won’t keep her from booking that flight. She will forget to check in with you when she arrives at her destination. She’s busy living in the present. She talks to strangers. She will meet many interesting, like-minded people from around the world who share her passion and dreams.

So never date a girl who travels unless you can keep up with her. And if you unintentionally fall in love with one, don’t you dare hold her back. Let her go.

 

Please note: Portions of this post were written by Adi Zarsadias.

Just Married: Josh & Jodie Ruyle

Just Married: Josh & Jodie Ruyle

Before I can talk to you about Jodie and Josh’s relations, I want to tell you a little bit about each of them as individuals.

If you knew Jodie and me when we were younger, you can probably remember how much we fought and hated each other. Well . . . it was probably just me doing all the hating; Jodie was just being a typical younger sister who looked up to her older sibling. But I couldn’t stand how much she copied and bothered me, especially when I was trying to act cool in front of my friends.

No doubt you’ve heard my story about the California Rollin’ girl, a doll I wanted so badly for Christmas. When I discovered it hidden in the crawlspace, I was elated, just to have my dreams crushed when “Santa” gave it to Jodie. She didn’t even want it!

And I’m sure Jodie has told each one of you how my idea of playing Barbies was having her set them all up, just to decide I didn’t want to play anymore. I think you get the point: Jodie and I didn’t have the greatest relationship when we were kids.

Fast-forward a few years, after each of us had grown up just a little, and our relationship took a turn. Instead of us fighting with one another, feisty Jodie was fighting off anyone who did me wrong. When a guy grabbed me at a bar, Jodie was right there to slap him across the face – and not once, but twice. On another occasion, she reamed one of my supposed friends for ruining my birthday.

Fast-forward a little more to the Jodie and Lindsay today: And the only issue between us is 1,036 miles. It’s hard for me to believe that I ever wanted to rip her head off. She truly is my best friend and I can’t imagine what life would be like without her.

I think that might just be the way Josh and Jodie feel about each other today – not the part about wanting to rip each other’s heads off, but the part about being best friends that couldn’t get by without one another. Josh confirmed these thoughts when I recently picked his brain about how well he knew his fiancée. In May 2007 when Jodie told Josh he “needed to commit or lose her,” he says, in his own words, “I couldn’t stand the thought of losing her, so I decided to commit. Best decision of my life.”

In the early days, I might have been a bit hesitant about Josh, being the protective older sister. But once Josh became a more permanent fixture in Jodie’s life, I was finally able to get to know him. Although Nick will do a better job of telling you all about Josh, I am sure on a few things . . .

He gives the best hugs. As long as I’ve known him, he’s always given genuine hugs that make you feel like you’ve known him all your life. Most of you have probably experienced them, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend hugging Josh at some point tonight.

He’s also one of the smartest people I know. Jodie says I shouldn’t say that around him because it might go to his head, but it’s true. Josh is a bundle of knowledge who always has a different or unique perspective on everything. I always leave a conversation with him feeling smarter.

Lastly – and most importantly – he is an extraordinary man who is perfect for my sister. He balances her out and makes her happy. He’s kind, thoughtful, welcoming and most of all patient. And he assured me that he knows full well what he’s getting himself into by marrying into the Holloway family.

Josh, Jodie, just keep doing what you’re doing. Because as individuals, you both are amazing. And together you shine even stronger. Saying each of you is marrying your best friend sounds cliché, but it’s true. You truly are perfect for one another. I wish you both the very best in your life as a married couple. And I love you both to the moon and back.

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Personal Life

Los Angeles: Pros

  • friends are here
  • Chris just moved back
  • great roommate situation
  • cheaper flights to Colorado
  • part of a fun kickball team
  • I’m partial to SoCal fashion/style
  • I love my life up here, maybe I’m not ready to give it up


Los Angeles: Cons

  • been in SoCal a long time
  • hard to meet quality guys in LA
  • I don’t have many single friends here anymore


New York City: pros

  • new city to explore
  • new city for friends and family to visit
  • closer to Ottawa, where Melissa may live one day 😉
  • meet new people, make new friends
  • a change from SoCal’s life-long bachelors
  • ready for a change
  • lots of city kickball leagues


New York City: cons

  • no friends there, leaving friends
  • leaving Chris, who just moved back
  • no family there, and family would be further away
  • flights to Colorado are more expensive
  • it’s hard to feel attractive in winter clothes
  • I’m terrified to uproot my great life in LA

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While this post is exactly what it seems – a comparison of the country’s two most-popular cities, a battle between West Coast and East Coast – on a deeper level, it’s a personal struggle I’m trying to work through as I decide which city I should live in. I’ve been offered two opportunities at the company I currently work for: 1) continue as editorial manager in the same business, but with a new team and in a new city, or 2) continue as editorial manager of the same team and in the same office, but for a new business that could grow exponentially.

Both options sound very appealing to me, and both are equally great opportunities for me. Similarly, I would be an asset to my employer in either position. So I stand at a crossroads, one foot pointed in each direction, with a very difficult decision to make. This potential multipart post is an attempt to sway myself one way or another.


Lifestyle

Los Angeles: Pros

  • great weather
  • beach
  • access to outdoors/nature
  • bigger apartments
  • walk to work
  • walk to many amenities
  • laid back
  • access to snowboarding
  • less expensive than NYC
  • great food
  • great music scene


Los Angeles: Cons

  • poor public transportation
  • horrible traffic
  • takes forever to get anywhere
  • very spread out
  • still an expensive city
  • potential for earthquakes


New York City: Pros

  • good public transportation (and I love public transportation)
  • I always wanted to try living in a big city (it’s on my bucket list!)
  • walk to many amenities
  • could sell my car
  • save $75/mo on car insurance
  • save on gas money
  • new city to explore
  • great, accessible food
  • great music scene


New York City: Cons

  • limited access to outdoors/nature
  • going snowboarding would be difficult
  • limited 24 Hour Fitness gyms
  • very expensive
  • small apartments
  • probably wouldn’t be able to walk to work
  • couldn’t have a car (limited parking, wouldn’t want to drive there)
  • no Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, etc.
  • grocery shopping is more difficult
  • limited grocery choices, limited produce
  • potential for hurricanes

Being the creative and cheeseball that I am, I decided to turn my company’s holiday party announcement into a rap. I’m on the social committee and we planned a festive time aboard the Tiki Mermaid for a cruise in Marina del Rey. With that in mind, only one rap could do . . .

Get your towels ready,
It’s about to go down.
Our office building doesn’t have a deck.
So we’re going somewhere that does.
We’re doing this, let’s go.

We’re on a boat, we’re on a boat
Everybody look at us
‘Cause we’re sailing on a boat
We’re on a boat, we’re on a boat
Take a good hard look
At IBISWorld’s boat.

We’re getting a boat for our holiday jam.
Straight flowing on a boat like pirates on the lam.
Busting five knots, wind whipping through our coats.
Well, maybe not that fast, but we will be on a boat.

Take a picture dudes, we’re on a Cali cruise.
Sipping fine wine and drinks ‘cause we like booze
In our luau shirts and holiday tresses,
We’re eating finger foods, instead of
updating global messes.

We’re riding Tiki Mermaid style, jealous I bet
Far from crashing waves, no one’s getting wet.
Marina del Rey days become del Rey nights,
But we’ll navigate the dark with our safety lights.

We’ll catch a bus and, then board our boat and,
Spend three hours booze cruising till we can’t stand.
We’re the best IBIS team in the whole wide world
Most know how to party, but some may hurl.

Sub-mit report, this boat is real.

No office! We at sea, land lover!
No coffee! Get a drink, land lover!
We on the deck with our toys, land lover!
This boat engine make noise, land lover!

Hey Harv, look out for us now,
Getting’ quite tipsy on the starboard bow.
Might step off of this boat into the sea somehow,
Like Rob Andrews, anything is possible!

Never thought we’d be on a boat
It’s a big blue watery road,
Justin Ruthven, look at us, oh, all hands on deck.
We totally earned the day
To have a party boat come our way
Believe us when we say: It’s Tiki Mermaid.

We’re on a boat, we’re on a boat
Everybody look at us
‘Cause we’re sailing on a boat
We’re on a boat, we’re on a boat
Take a good hard look
At IBISWorld’s boat.

Josh McBee contributed to this rap.

I joined Plenty of Fish… wait, let me rephrase that… My girlfriend signed me up for Plenty of Fish against my will several months ago. I had always been skeptical of online dating sites: partly because of all the horror stories I’d heard, partly because I’m not confident in humankind enough to believe there aren’t creeps out there and mostly because digital dating just doesn’t seem natural to me.

Despite my reluctance, I picked a few photos for my profile and wrote up a quick “About Me” section. It felt so weird talking about myself, basically advertising myself to my target audience. And like in the real advertising world, I knew many people outside of my target audience would see my “marketing message” and think it was meant for them (more
on some of the crazy messages I’ve received later).

The day I signed up, my roommate and I spent the evening “shopping” on the website. It was almost like any other online shopping we do, for shoes, clothes, etc. A picture would catch my eye, and so I’d click into the profile to read about the guy. I’ll admit it’s fun, but it’s definitely a weird feeling.

Within a couple days, other fishers (guys) started writing me. I felt overwhelmed and flustered with all the messages from complete strangers. And I especially felt torn as to what to do with the messages from guys I wasn’t interested in for one reason or another. Do I respond? And if so, what do I say? “Thanks for writing, but you’re too short.” Or, “Thanks for all the compliments, but I’m looking for a guy with a job.” Is that better or worse than hearing nothing at all? Based on the greater number of misses than hits I received, I ultimately decided not to respond to the guys I wasn’t interested in. I truly felt bad, but later on my decision was confirmed as the right thing to do because I finally worked up the courage to actually start “approaching” guys myself, and let’s just say I’ve had my fair share of ignored messages. Kinda hurts the ego, not gonna lie.

Since signing up, especially in the beginning, I’ve received messages from guys spanning all walks of life. And the messages they choose to send me are equally diverse. Some have written me poems, ones that I can only assume are copied and pasted into messages for every girl they write. Some have written novels that even a longwinded writer like myself struggles to get through. On the other end of the spectrum are effortless one-liners, or even a lone “hi” or smiley face, as if that’s supposed to spark conversation. Some guys will at least start off with a question, but they neglect to actually look over my profile to see their question has already been answered. Just as I suspected in my initial hesitation for joining, there are a fair share of creeps and pervs out there: I’ve been propositioned for a threesome, I’ve been offered money for sexual favors and I’ve been given details on what guys would like to do to me. Needless to say, I didn’t feel bad not responding to any of them.

Of the guys I did respond to, two have lead to dates. Although I won’t go into too much detail on the guys, the dates went great. The first one involved biking around Santa Monica, stopping for drinks, dinner and dessert. I just didn’t feel any chemistry between us, and I can only assume he felt the same way because we never really started talking again after. The second date was drinks and apps at a cool gastropub, also in Santa Monica. Again, I think it went well: we got along, good conversation. But by the end of the date, I knew there wouldn’t be a second date; just some cultural barriers that I think would make it too difficult. Unfortunately, I think the guy left the date hoping for another, because he texted me incessantly for weeks after.

Once again I was in an awkward position of not knowing how to respond. How do I tell him I’m not interested? I never came to the answer, so I just briefly responded to his texts every once in awhile, hoping he’d get the hint. Unlucky for me he did not and ended up texting me in a drunken rage (assumed) one Friday night that I “suck” and have a “fake attitude,” oh and that I owe him $20. I took the out and told him not to text me again. He said he “for sure wouldn’t,” but only after texting that he thinks I’m “ridiculous” and I wasted $50 and two hours of his time. Just two weeks ago he requested me as a Facebook friend – as if! I promptly declined and blocked him from ever contacting me again.

Even guy friends who admit I needed to be honest with him can’t believe the audacity. I’ll just take the experience as a lesson learned: insist that I pay for my half (he wouldn’t let me) and don’t worry about saving a guy’s ego.

Just recently I learned that my good friend signed up on Plenty of Fish. We spent a good hour detailing our experiences, swapping stories and recommending “fish” to one another – whether for a good match or a good laugh, like the guy who details his shaving preferences. She has more experience on dating sites than I without significant success (i.e. many of the horror stories I’ve heard in the past have been hers), but her positive attitude and popularity on the site have encouraged me to spend some more time fishing. Sure, I put my bait out there, but I’ll never catch anything if I’m not paying attention to my line. Wish me luck!

Note: This other fisherwoman, my roommate (who just joined OKCupid) and I have decided to document our experiences in the hopes of writing a book, so stay tuned!