Friday, March 31, 2006

One Last Post Before I Go-Go

The past few days have been busy with lots of fun, of course. I don't know what I'll do this next week and a half when I can't blog or post pics while I road-trip and visit the East Coast. There will certainly be a lot to tell when I get back online.

Right now, I'm trying to remember what all has gone on since I last wrote on Monday. (And I'm downloading more music for my iPod . . . Pat Benatar . . very random.) It's really upsetting me that I can't remember what I did Monday.

Ok. . I remember . . I went to the Wild Animal Park with Rochester, Del2, Birmingham, and Philly. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed. We have a great *premier* zoo in Omaha that is a lot better. However, I realize that I didn't go the actual, famous San Diego Zoo, which I'm sure would've been great. I kinda wanted to do the photo caravan where you can get up close to the animals, like giraffes and rhinos. But I didn't want the animals to actually touch me like I'd seen in a picture. And, I didn't want to pay $90+ just to smell them and get a good picture.

After the Park, we stopped at a winery on our way back. It was a fun experience, and I have some great pics. Here's a couple without any people in them.

On Tuesday, Hillcrest, Virginia, Rochester, Delaware, and I went to Rosarito Beach. Sounds pretty, huh? Nope. Not pretty. Especially not when it's gloomy and rainy. But, even sunny . . not pretty. And it was Spring Break, so all these young'uns were running around. The taxi made me want to burn my clothes and exfoliate my whole body. The condo wasn't anything to write home about either. In fact, I didn't want to sleep under the covers or sit on the couch. Not gross necessarily . . just not nice.
We were hungry by the time we got there, but were afraid to eat anywhere. We asked the guy in the taxi to take us to the nicest restaurant in Rosarito. It certainly wasn't ritzy, but I wasn't scared to eat there . . and, at that point, that's all I cared about. Rochester ate rabbit for dinner . . . mmm. I had some decent quesadillas.

The rest of the night was interesting. I was very excited to go back 'home' the next day. Thank goodness we had Hillcrest (half-Mexican) translating for us the whole time. I could've spoken Spanish, but it wouldn't have sounded nearly as pretty.

Last night, I met up with my aunt and uncle in La Jolla at Roppongi for dinner with their ministry team that just got back from Tijuana. The food was amazing. And we sat outside at a round table with a fire going in the middle. The presentation alone was worth the money . . of course, what am I saying . . the whole time I was thinking, "Geez, I hope I don't have to pay for this, because this is gonna be expensive . . and I just paid $7 to park my car!". . . I didn't (have to pay for dinner) and felt very blessed, as I have frequently been throughout this trip. It was so great to meet up with them and talk about my last month here and my plans for the future.

Later that night, Rochester and I had a talk. We decided we were just friends. Because we've sort of had a "thing" only it really wasn't much of anything. And now it really is nothing. Confused? Me, too . . just kidding. There is a chance that I will be working with him in the future and I don't need any complications at work . . plus, there's an even greater chance (like a 100% chance) that I wouldn't ever really date him (he doesn't love the Lord . . and, even though I like him and he's my friend . . . sometimes he drives me nuts, because he just doesn't talk enough! I need feedback, people!) So that pretty much seals the deal. Glad to have gotten it out on the table.

Today, I ran errands and had lunch with P.C. at B.J.'s. It was delicious . . and she insisted I try Pizookie (warm cookie in a deep dish with ice cream on top). It's always fun to meet another dessert-lover. She is so sweet and I'm totally bummed that I can't stay and be her friend longer :)

Folks, I have not packed yet! It's 11:45 p.m. and I'm leaving tomorrow for 10 days! Wow . . 10 days! I don't think I can fit 10 days in a carry-on suitcase. Not that Villanova said I have to . . but I thought I'd try to save space in the car. I'm excited to go . . even though I'm not sure what he & I will talk about for five.freaking.days! Good thing I'm a talker and have an awesome iPod. Good thing he likes Coldplay and said he'll let me listen to country when we drive through "country-like states" like Kansas :). Good thing he's not attractive and is kinda nerdy so I will be free of any temptation to grab his hand or sing Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now".

Here's, roughly, what the next few days look like:

1. Day One - Drive to Vegas and stay there.
2. Day Two - Drive through beautiful Utah and into Colorado. Stay in Denver.
3. Day Three - Drive through Kansas and Missouri. Stay in St. Louis.
4. Day Four - Drive up to Indianapolis and go to the March Madness Championship game!!!
5. Day Five - Drive to Philly (I think)
After that, we'll be meeting up with Delaware in Delaware. We also plan to make a trip to NYC. I'll stay with Delaware for a few days and we'll drive down to visit Rochester in D.C. for a couple of days. Then I'll fly back to San Diego and spend a week with the fam.

I'll miss reading all of your blogs. Stay tuned . . .

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fun While I'm Here, Plans For When I Go

Last night, a group of us went to the Gaslamp Quarter for dinner at Bella Luna. I had the grilled prime filet mignon, millefoglie potatoes, with porcini mushroom sauce. And I had several bites of Delaware's bow tie pasta, fresh salmon, and spinach, in a light martini pink sauce. Hungry yet?? The best part was that, much to our surprise, we didn't have to pay for it! One of our managers was there and picked up the tab. Probably the last free meal I'll get while I'm out here.

This morning, I went to church at South Coast, knowing it would be my last time (unless I take my parents for their Easter service when they visit). I really like that church and am disappointed I can't attend longer. But, God knows.

Much of the rest of my day was unproductive, and it was driving me nuts! A group of us had planned to go miniature golfing, but the time kept getting pushed back. A couple of people bailed (the ones whose idea it was in the first place) but we finally ended up going around 4:30. Up until that point, all I'd done since noon was a little laundry and b-ball game-watching with Rochester. Which, by the way, I've now gone from 1st place to 2nd and have no chance of winning. I picked UConn to go all the way. *Frown* Hopefully I'll still get 2nd or 3rd place.

After mini-golfing, we went back to Del Mar to eat dinner at Bully's. They're supposed to have the best prime rib in San Diego. I tasted Rochester's and it was pretty amazing. I just stuck with a chicken sandwich and baked potato. It's funny when we all eat out together and people show their IDs because everyone is from a different state, yet we're all hanging out acting like old friends.

I've been talking to Villanova lately (someone I haven't mentioned before). He attends law school at Villanova and lives in Philadelphia. He had his car shipped out here and will be driving back cross-country for the experience rather than having it shipped back. He said anyone that wants to come along can come, so I'm in! We're going to discuss the course and all the places we'll stop. I can't wait to visit states I've never seen before. Once I get to the East Coast, the plan is to stay with Delaware for a few days before flying back to San Diego for a vacation with my family. Let's hope that something along the lines of a job will be in the works during that period of time!! I've emailed my resume to one of my managers to take a look at it and offer suggestions (it's hard to sum up what I've just done) and hope to be in touch with a couple of people next week.

I can't believe I only have 4 days left with my new friends! It's going to fly by. I hope to make the most of each day!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Closer Than I'll Ever Be Again

Philly hiked the mesa that surrounds our apartment complex and took this picture to show just how close we are, or should I say, have been to the ocean.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Play & Work

Yesterday was gorgeous, just like the day before. I went golfing with Rochester, Virginia, and Phoenix. (I haven't mentioned Phoenix before. He was my "supervisor" at work. He is over 30, balding, and has the most awkward personality of anyone I've ever met. He makes cracks about Nebraska all the time, but they are so lame that I have to force the most unnatural chuckles and hope he goes away.)

We had an early tee time at a country club, because Virginia's parents belong . . but, although someone had told him he could play under their membership, they told him he couldn't once we got there. So, we ended up playing a public course. It was nice, just not near as nice as the private course. I hadn't played 18 holes in awhile, but since it was such a beautiful day and I was playing pretty well, it was a lot of fun.

Back at home, I sent my resume to my cousin in D.C. upon his request. I didn't include information about the project I just did, because I figured he knew all about it and didn't know if his intention was to send it on to other people or just look at it himself and let me know if he thought anything they had might be a good fit for me. Well, duh, of course he wants to send it on, and he just emailed me to add the project. Dang! I get so perfectionistic (is that a word??) about stuff like this and now I'll probably spend all day trying to word it correctly. Plus, usually no one at your previous places of employment ever sees your resume so you can really talk it up and exaggerate, but now I'll be worried about how to do that, since he knows and will be reading it. I planned to go to the beach right now for quiet time, but I'm afraid this is way more important. Plus, if I get a call to do something fun in a couple of hours, I don't want to feel irresponsible leaving this for later.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I'm #1

I just had to mention that I have been in the #1 spot in our work March Madness pool since it started (except for a few hours at one point). This is out of 11 people, most of which know what they're talking about when it comes to college b-ball. Granted, there's a lot of luck involved, but still. Thanks to my call on LSU beating Duke tonight (sad, sad, sad - poor Duke) this puts me at an even greater advantage. Now, #2 is 6 points behind me, which is the most anyone has trailed me so far. Let's hope this keeps up so I can be $240 richer . . and be able to brag, of course!!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The End Has Come Too Soon

I can't believe my time in San Diego has come to an end so soon. No one expected it. We anticipated being here through the summer. It's good in the sense that the client is victorious (thanks, in part, to our hard work), but now we must leave our paradise. Fortunately, I will be walking away with over 2 months pay (which at my old job would've been about 5 months pay), though I've only been here 3 weeks. It was certainly worth it. And I love the new friends I've made. I'm sure I won't keep in touch with them all . . maybe one or two . . but it's been so much fun. The experience has been wonderful, and I feel that it's freed me almost . . in the sense that I feel like I can do anything now . . I'm not afraid.

I'm not ready to go home and don't expect to for long. I'm talking to a few people about opportunities in a couple of other states. I want to do something I'm excited about that uses my talents . . so we'll see what is available and if anything is a good fit for me.

I have the apartment for another month, so I think I'm going to fly back here with my family for a week to show them San Diego, since we'll have a free place to stay. I'm so excited! Otherwise, if enough people (co-workers) are hanging around here, I may not go home next week and just stay for awhile myself.

It's so beautiful here . . I'm so sad to go so soon, but I suppose living this kind of life for too long would've made it even harder to go back to reality. I'm going to make the most of my last week here, just hanging out with friends every day and trying to fit everything in that I've wanted to do.

Last night, everyone went to En Fuego again, and we had a blast! Let's just say, I lost my voice. It was strange to say good-bye to the some co-workers I won't see again. (Many I will still hang out with, though). I mean, we just found out last night that we were done, so we didn't have any notice. What a shock. Delaware said she stayed in bed this morning for hours not wanting to get up . . you know that feeling when you're sad and you don't know what's next? I will miss her the most. There's a chance we could get a job at the same place which would be awesome!

This morning, I went to Nico's Taco Shop for a breakfast burrito with Rochester and then he & I went to La Jolla with Birmingham and Virginia. We ate at Brockton Villa which supposedly has the best ocean view in La Jolla. Then we walked along the shoreline while I made them constantly stop and pose for pictures. We visited a cave and watched the seals laying out on the beach.

Me, posing next to our table at Brockton.

We've decided to plan ahead for the rest of our days in San Diego so as not to waste any time figuring out what to do when each day comes. Tonight, a group of 7 of us went to eat at The Cheesecake Factory. Yummm.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

We won . . . we're done.

Yay for Good Food and Upgrades!

Dinner went well on Sunday night. Five people turned into eight and I started to get a little nervous. But . . when I went to the grocery store for more food, I ran into Philly, who was once a chef at a French restaurant. He said he'd cook with me, so we got a few more ingredients than I'd planned on, some stuff for appetizers, and some dessert. He showed me how to properly cut certain veggies, etc. Here's a picture of the avocado he cut up and peppered (I thought of you, BF) for an appetizer. We also had those table crackers and havarti cheese with prosciutto swirls.

I didn't take a picture of the stir fry the night we made it, but here are my leftovers :) It's chicken with peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, and red onions.

Yesterday, Delaware and I went shopping and then worked out together. We've decided to hold each other accountable to going at least 5 times a week. . to the gym, that is . . . only once or twice a week to the mall.

Tonight was the weekly company dinner and this time we ate at Sbicca. I had jalapeno marinated steak. And, of course, plenty of appetizers and desserts to share.

I'm so excited, because it looks like I'm moving into a different apartment (same complex) and my bedroom will be huge, as will my bathroom! Not to complain about my current living space, because it's great and totally fine for me. . . BUT, if I can upgrade, why not? Plus, when people come to visit, there will be more room. I've asked not to room with the new girl coming from Omaha. I'm not really excited about someone else from home coming out here. Maybe I don't want to feel like I have to hang out with someone just because we're from the same place . . that probabaly sounds terribly mean and I'll probably love her . . but you know?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I Went to My Favorite Place!

Last night at Moondoggie's was fun! I went with the work gang and afterward hung out at Delaware's apartment for some late-night snacks. . . pizza and chips and salsa.

After 5 hours of sleep, I woke up and went to church with PC again. It was so good today and a message I really needed to hear. The worship was outstanding, too. Unfortunately, their worship pastor will be leaving in a couple of weeks.

This afternoon, Delaware, Rochester, Virginia, Birmingham, and I went to Coronado Island to eat lunch at Costa Azul. I had the rotisserie chicken enchiladas in corn tortillas . . yum! We walked to one of my favorite places ever, Hotel Del. Sadly, it was chilly and windy today, so we didn't stay long . . but long enough to take some cute pictures. I want so badly to post them, but still haven't decided if I should post pics of my co-workers. So, here's one of moi:

Last night, I cooked delicious chicken stir fry with asparagus, red onions, and mushrooms for Delaware and I, and for some crazy reason, I offered to cook the same thing for 5 people tonight!! What was I thinking?? I need to go to the store and get more food. . .

A Much Better View than a Treadmill Can Offer

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Clothes Horse

Last night, I finally saw Virginia's closet:

This is what he brought for his 6 month stay here in California. We tease him about it all the time, among other things, but he's such a good sport.

Getting to know him more, I've decided he's the whitest black guy I've ever met. He even likes country music. His name, in itself, sounds posh and prestigious . . I wish so badly I could write it! He even states his first-(hyphen)-middle and last name on his voice mail! And you almost start to think he's gay because he's so fashion-conscious and particular about things, but he's not. His girlfriend is here this weekend with her friends and is just as polite and proper as he is. He really is such a gentleman, always being courteous and opening doors for women, etc. He may be the most refined person I've ever known. Somehow he wound up getting a Jag for a rental car . . probably helped that he used his parents Hertz Gold card and whined about how much he missed his Range Rover back home. Last night, I was telling his girlfriend about Fashion Valley and he said, "Yes, they have Burberry, Neiman Marcus, and Louis . . some of our favorite stores." But he's not conceited about it. Apparently his dad used to work for the Secretary of something in D.C. and he's had internships there since he was 16. Other people's lives are so interesting, aren't they? I suppose since I'm a blogger, it's kind of a given that I think that.

The Perfect (Half) Day Off

Today was such a relaxing day. I only actually worked about 2 hours, then ate Greek food that was catered in (we get lunch at the office each Friday), and went home. Since I'm going in tomorrow morning, I got this afternoon off. What to do . . what to do. . . go to the beach, of course!

I went jogging along the ocean today and it was perfect. It was beautiful . . the weather was perfect. Tomorrow I'll post a few of the many pictures I took.

After my jog, I went to a nearby salon to have my hair texturized and thinned out . . it's been driving me crazy for sooo long. The girl did a great job on it, but DANG! it was expensive. It cost $50, and I didn't even have any length taken off. Then, after I bought some Bumble & bumble styling cream and left a tip, I was up to $77!! I could've gone to Rocco's about a mile away, but once I walked up to the door, I did a quick 180 when I got a closer look at the place and saw the sign that read "Women's Haircuts: $16.75". My hair is worth much more to me than that. I wonder . . when I place cuts hair for that cheap, do they even know the definition of the word "texturize"?

I headed home to actually cook myself a meal. For the past 2 weeks, the only thing I've eaten at home is PB & J or Wheaties. I finally went grocery shopping this week, which was one of the most depressing things I've done in awhile, considering the prices I had to pay. But cooking something good tonight wasn't in the cards. I don't have a big history of using gas stoves . . or any stove for that matter, since I don't do much cooking . . so I thought perhaps they took extra-long to heat up. Once I became light-headed and the butter in pan still hadn't melted, I began to wonder . . so I phoned Mom and she told me 5 times to turn the stove off and open my windows! Looks like I'll have to call maintenance to have the pilot-thing turned on. And my supper tonight . . PB & J.

I went shopping with Delaware at a very cute boutique and almost left without buying anything. . but I spotted this long gold chain with faux pearls and charms at the end and just had to have it. I also spotted some earrings for $20 that I paid $10 for in Omaha. Crazy.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Girl Fun

Yesterday, after work, Delaware and I took about a 3 mile walk (round trip) to the tanning salon and I bought a package. This isn't something I was really planning on doing in San Diego. I thought that if one lives in San Diego, one is tan. Period. No planned exposure to sun necessary. This is not true. I guess the same rules of logic apply in Southern California . . at least when it comes to tanning.

I hung out with Pink's cousin (PC) again last night, along with a few of her friends and they had a very fun idea. They gathered all the clothes they no longer wanted, laid them out on their living room floor, and let each other take she wanted. . . like the whole "one man's junk is another man's treasure" thing. I did feel odd sticking mass amounts of clothing in my little plastic bag while they sat and watched. . especially since I came out here with only my favorite stuff or whatever I needed, so I didn't have anything to contribute. Nevertheless, they said if no one took it, it would just go to a thrift store anyway. So I did end up with a couple shirts for work, some workout t-shirts, and some fun casual shirts. They made Rice Krispie treats and brownies, too. PC and her friends really are very fun and easy to hang out with. You know you've found a cool group when you're ready to participate in a round of Nair lip hair removal with them. How many people would you walk around in a white moustache with?


Mom told me not to write about “boys” on here, because . . well, you all read it. . and I know a lot of you and will actually see you again in person someday. But I decided it’s OK, because I’m not officially interested and . . I’m human and I like talking about different aspects of being human, even if they do involve someone of the opposite sex and me sounding totally juvenile and ridiculous. Besides, I wouldn’t yet consider this a very personal topic due to the aforementioned fact that I’m really not officially interested. Really.

I mentioned Rochester before and how I thought he was nice and intelligent and . . not cute, yet in some lights and some situations possessing elements of cuteness. . actually pretty much any time he talks. . I don’t know what it is. After Saturday night, I thought maybe it was the Malibu or the fact that I didn’t have anyone more interesting to talk to that night. But I’m pretty sure it was neither of those things.

(On a side note: Yes, I had an adult beverage, although I previously mentioned that I planned on not drinking. And I didn’t until that very moment when pineapple and coconut sounded so delicious to me, as did the idea of someone else paying for it. By the way, C & J, if you’re reading this, I’m blaming it on you because I’m pretty sure the love for this particular drink began at your house and somehow found its way into my life as well. I’m just thankful it’s low in alcohol content.)

Anyway, on Saturday night, Rochester sent a few “signals”, if you will, and for some odd reason, I didn’t mind. He was very gentlemanly, fun, etc. After that night, I wondered what would happen. Were the signals a one-night-only deal or what? But at dinner Tuesday night and basically every time I’ve seen him, the little “signals” seem to keep on comin’. They’re small I suppose, but if you’re a girl, you just know. I also heard through the family grapevine that he talked to my cousin (who he works with in D.C.) and went on and on about how great I’m doing out here. Of course, then there was today when I thought he was quite friendly with Delaware and I started to overanalyze, which I’m very talented at I might add. He invited me to pizza tonight with the work crew where we can each watch our game of choice, mine being Duke and his being Syracuse. Then he told me he’d pick me up (and it’s not far, folks) and Delaware was sitting right there and he didn’t offer to pick her up, too. So I think it’s safe to say that the signals are exclusively for me at this point. And that’s fun, and I’m glad . . . but I’m not officially interested.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More Good Food and Fun Times

This week I volunteered to come in at 6am every morning. This way I get off by 3 and can enjoy a few hours of sunlight and run some errands, etc. Surprisingly, it hasn't been bad. Waking up at 4:30 is tough, but once I've gotten dressed and ready, I feel good. And I seem to have more energy than usual. I don't get draggy after lunch like I normally would. I may try to make this schedule a permanent thing.

Monday night, I drove up to Escondido to meet a lady who is a friend of my friend's mother. Her home is located in the most beautiful place, up on a big hill/mountain. Unfortunately, I got there just after dark, but they took me out on the 1,800 sq ft deck and I could see the silhouette of the mountains in the distance. It was completely quiet and peaceful there . . I couldn't hear a sound and the sky was full of hundreds of stars. They live right near a big lake and valley where apparently many celebs make their home. She happens to also be from Nebraska and made a delicious Midwestern meal that I enjoyed with her, her husband, and her son. We had a very nice time together. She gave me all three of her phone numbers so I could reach her at any time. I'm so blessed to have yet another connection here.

Yesterday, I went straight to the beach after work and walked around for nearly an hour. I can't get enough of it. Now that I'm off work earlier I may go every day since it's so close. Last night, we had our weekly company dinner at Pacifica. Again, amazing food and an awesome atmosphere. We could see the ocean in the distance, over the roofs of buildings across the street, because we were on the second floor of a Plaza. If it had been warmer, it would've been open to the outdoors. I ate the barbecued salmon with garlic mashed potatoes and had a taste of some seabass and swordfish, which were also excellent. The presentation of the food was cool, too. My roommate and I split the Burnt Cream with carmelized bananas.

Right now, I'm on my lunch break, and I'm kind of riding on a cloud. My manager just called me in and said that I was doing so excellent that I just set the bar a notch higher for everyone else. She said she couldn't be happier that I'm here. Yay!! And the best part is that I'm sure she'll tell everyone else, like El Presidente, in their meeting.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Yay - a Christian friend!

Yesterday, I met Pink's cousin! We met at a mall in La Jolla and ended up shopping all afternoon (she loves shoe shopping, too :) and then having dinner at Red Robin and splitting one of their Rookie Magic shakes that we both happen to love. She is so sweet and I had such a great time getting to know her. I visited her church this morning. It's much smaller than The Rock. Two to three hundred compared to seven thousand! I actually liked the worship more and I did like the message, too. I think it would be much easier to get involved in a smaller community. Plus, Pink's cousin (PC) introduced me to some people already. We went to lunch here for Hawaiian food (and ate outside with a view of the ocean). I had the grilled mahi mahi on cabbage with rice and macaroni salad. I'm so thankful that Pink got us in touch with one another! What a blessing it's already been. I'm looking forward to hanging out with PC even more.

Last night, Rochester called to tell me a few people were going to a party (Philly's friend just got her doctorate here at USD) so I rode with him to meet up with Philly, Birmingham, and Matt from work. The party was at a condo right on ocean. I was so disappointed that the weather wasn't nice, because I would've loved to take a stroll along the ocean walk. It was way too cold and windy. The four of us (Rochester, Birmingham, Philly, & I) got tired of the party real quick, so we headed next door to Tower 23, where there was a neat bar. Normally it would've been open to the outdoors, but again, it was too cold for that. We stayed there for quite a while and I basically talked to Rochester the whole time, while the other guys were chatting it up with some other girls. Rochester is not cute (at all), but there's something cute about him and he's intelligent and fun to talk to. Then we went back and watched the movie, "Waiting" (DON'T SEE IT! It's horrrible.) Don't ask why I watched a movie, because it was already 2am when we started it.

(Kinda "funny" thing I overheard at Tower 23: Birmingham (Mr. Proper and Polite) was talking to some girl who'd "had a few" and she made some comment jokingly about how she was built and had a big chest knowing she didn't and Birmingham, who'd also "had a few" said, "No you don't." Doh! Reason #153 why maybe drinking isn't such a good idea.)

Yesterday's sky, taken while PC and I were shopping

The view from Da Kine's (lunch today) in Pacific Beach.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My First Visit to the Gaslamp Quarter

Ok, I originally wrote today's post about how I was kinda lonely for the first time and had nothing to do tonight . . . . but that all changed.

Delaware's sister, Del2, had friends here from . . . you guessed it, Delaware! She called to see if I wanted to go to the Gaslamp Quarter with them. I've only hung out with Del2 once and that was at Disneyland . . and her boyfriend, the screenwriter from LA (just thought that was interesting-ha), was there. So, there I was, basically going out with 4 people I didn't know.

When we got downtown and found parking, we realized it was $20!! Fortunately someone pulled up and sold their parking ticket to us for $10. Unfortunately, it was chilly and raining and we were walking along the street trying to decide where to go eat. A bouncer yelled out to us and told us he'd let us in his club for free right away, even though there was a line of about 50 people! We kept going and ended up eating at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza. Apparently it's one of the top 5 most popular restaurants in San Diego - who knew! Everything on the menu sounded delicious and it was hard making a decision. I ended up getting the Slow-Smoked BBQ Beef Quesadilla.

It's so funny how they all have that Northeastern accent. And I found myself starting to say words like them. Am I the only one that does this? If I'm around someone with any kind of accent, I find myself having to make an effort to not start talking like them. Hope no one noticed.

It was so fun hanging with them. They've all been friends for years . . a couple of them even went to elementary school together and were reminiscing. I felt so comfortable with them that our dinner conversation even led to topics like bodily functions and gyno appointments.

After dinner, we went to Jimmy Love's to hang out and listen to their live band, The Reaganomics. They played some great 80s music and had props and everything. I couldn't stop staring at the lead singer, because from where I sat, she really did look like Madonna.

A man in his 40s came up to chat with us and we found out that he was a recruiter for the USA National Rugby team. He introduced us to Manny from New Zealand . . this big Polynesian guy that is so awesome at rugby they've had their eye on him for 10 years! They're trying to convince him that the US is a great place to live so he'll come play for us. What a nice guy! It was so funny, because he said that he knew we were fashionable in America and saw people wearing Abercrombie and AE, so he went out and bought himself an AE polo. He also thought that Nebraska was in Canada (he said it sounded Canadian-hehe) . . but, hey, there's probably people in the US that think that. Anyway, it was a lot of fun learning all about rugby.

The night was good.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's a Small Group After All

Today went well . . . and I've decided that even if work goes slowly some days, I'm OK with that, because I want this whole experience to go by as slowly as possible. Who cares if an 8-hour day feels like a 10-hour day when you can go look at the ocean after work or walk outside without a jacket on.

After work tonight, we went to Happy Hour at En Fuego and the food was so yummy. I had chicken nachos and a carne asada taco. I loved the atmosphere with the downstairs patio open to the cool air.

On the drive to Jake's and En Fuego the last two days, I've loved driving this road that turns a corner and BOOM-there's the ocean. You're up on a hill and it's a mile away . . huge and sparkling and beautiful. I feel like I need to share that experience with someone. It takes my breath away. God is so amazing.

I left early to head to Ocean Beach for small group. It was my first time on the 5 in the dark. It was pretty intense, but I remained calm and found the girl's house pretty easily. There were quite a few people not in attendance tonight (according to the leader) so it was pretty small - 5 of us. It was nice to be with people who loved the Lord . . . but . . . the hostess kinda drove me nuts. She was sooo overly dramatic and went on and on and on about . . herself. The leader was cool, though, and we had a nice time. I think I'll go at least once more before I make a decision as to whether or not it's for me.

At small group, everyone told me that I was going to get lost in SD. . it was inevitable. I said they were wrong and surely I could avoid that happening as long as I was alert and prepared (knew where I was going). Well . . . I got lost driving home. The leader let me follow him to a shortcut to get on the 5 and I was good for miles and miles . . . and then I somehow got off the freeway one exit too soon . . I have no clue how. It was one of those situations where the exit leads you faaaar away from the freeway. I could not get back on. Somehow, and I still don't know how, I followed signs and instead of getting back on the freeway like I was trying to do, I ended up finding a street I was familiar with and found my way home. But the whole time I was thinking, "Ooook, there is no store for me to stop and ask directions . . nothing . . . and it's dark . . and late . . and I have no clue where I'm at." It took me a long time to get home, but I made it . . and I'm not as afraid of getting lost now.

I got in touch with Pink's cousin today! She had called yesterday and I was so excited to hear from her. She sounds so sweet and I can't wait to meet her on Saturday. She used to attend the church I visited, but now goes to a different church in PB, and I may visit on Sunday.

I can't believe I've only been here 5 days!! It feels like so much longer!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Mar" News

Sunday, I went to church here. I really liked it. The worship can't touch my church's . . but not many can. It was good, though, and I liked the pastor and his message. The greeters were so friendly and made me feel so welcome. They had a ministry fair afterward, too, and there were so many different ways to get involved. I'm hoping to try one of their small groups for young professionals tomorrow. (*On a comparably unimportant note: good-looking Christian guys . . they do exist.)

Sunday afternoon, I went to the beach and watched the sun set! It's pretty much a straight shot (2 miles) west from my apartment. And each day when I get off work, the sun is about the set, so I plan on heading over often.

The first two days of work have been great. I haven't been nervous at all. So far, I'm really enjoying what I'm doing and I like the people I work with. I've been able to get to know them more, and they're a lot of fun. Sunday night, I went to Spice Thai with Minnesota (my manager)& Philly (I'll refer to them by location :) Then we met up with everyone else at the clubhouse and played pool and hung out.

Tonight, El Presidente (President of the company) took us out to eat (it's a weekly thing) and we ate at Jake's Del Mar. (Too bad the website doesn't have a picture to do it justice.) My seat was facing the ocean, which was about 100 feet away, so I could see the waves coming in the whole time. On the drive there, I was driving on a main road and came around the corner and the view of the ocean was amazing. It took my breath away. At the restaurant, we ate whatever we wanted. . . such as Artichoke Heart something-or-other appetizer and fried calamari. . . . NY Strip Steak with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies (and a taste of the salmon and ahi seared tuna) . . . and their famous Hula Pie and Creme Brulee for dessert. We had a lot of laughs.

-Delaware (the girl I said was loud) is cool and I like here more now that I've gotten to know her.
-Birmingham has the slightest, most sophisticated Southern accent and he's very proper, but kinda awkward at times.
-Rochester (a guy I interviewed with before coming out here) is cool and funny in his own way. Somehow I get a kick out of him.
-Hillcrest is gay and quite a riot . . . Rochester and I watched "Coyote Ugly" at his place tonight. He had crackers and "neopolitan" cheese set out.
-Virginia (the guy with all the clothes and the love for alcohol) is very nice, gentlemanly, and easy to joke with. We teased him tonight, because his wine glass was FULL of red wine and he hadn't touched his water. We also teased him about the look on his face when we rode "Space Mountain" . . we'll never stop laughing about that.
-Philly is cool . . a free spirit, entrepreneur type guy. I pointed out to Delaware that he looks like a muppet when he laughs . . and he laughs all the time, so I don't know how we'll look at him from now on. If he wouldn't laugh, he's a nice-looking guy.

Well, these are just to name a few, but needless to say, I'm getting to know everyone more . . and enjoying it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Saw the office today . . kinda nice, huh?


Conference Room (catering room is beyond the table)

An office

Bathroom, right off the above office


Break room

All over the office, they put up pictures (like the ones you see) of their employees' families, pets, favorite places, etc. I wanted to include more pics, but wouldn't want to reveal the name of the company ;)

On Second Thought . .

. . maybe I should drink . . . simply because apparently even if I don't order any alcoholic beverages at dinner, we still split the bill evenly. Tonight, my meal should've cost $9 w/o tip, but because the two people I was with had drinks, I ended up paying $20. If I wanted to pay $20, I would've ordered the stuffed pineapple entree.

If this continues, I might say something. Would you?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

My Plane Has Landed

I made it! I'm here in San Diego. . and the past few days since I last wrote have been crazy, of course. I was glad to be able to . . have dinner with my aunt and uncle, lunch with AG, time with BF, a stop by to see the twins & their brother, and a chance to visit my friends & their new baby boy before I left.

Packing ended up being a bit harder than I thought. Yes, I did have the basics laid out (thanks to the Lucky manual), but then I kept throwing extras in and thinking of things I'd need over the next 4 months. Toward the end of the night before, I started to feel overwhelmed. My mom thought it was because I didn't know how to fit everything into 2 suitcases and a big carry-on. But it was more because I kept thinking of things that I might wish I'd have brought once I got there. Maybe in two weeks I'd really want to wear a shirt I didn't bring along. Still, I feel I made good choices as to what I packed.

My plane ride to Denver was pretty interesting. I sat next to a Latino who didn't speak a word of English . . ok, maybe five words . . seriously, he really didn't know any English. I thought this would be a great opportunity to practice my Espanol, so I asked him once we took off, "Hablas Espanol?" This began a 3 hour conversation in Spanish. I'm not fluent, so it was hard at times to communicate certain things . . mainly because of verb tenses. We'd have a few lulls in conversation because we couldn't think of what to say next . . and it was a bit of a workout for my brain. Once we got off the plane, he offered to walk me to my next gate, and even bought me lunch (geez, I felt bad). Then, he sat there with me til my next flight. It was so fun talking to him - we learned a lot about each other. He said that even though he's an American (born in LA, but moved to Mexico for 26 years), he always has to prove it to people. But I was thinking, "Well, guy, you don't speak English so perhaps that is why people don't automatically think you're American." Just a thought.

I bought a movie on my flight to San Diego, which was a treat. Once in San Diego, I got so excited seeing the palm trees outside. My first encounter wasn't friendly. Some guy at the airport got annoyed because I asked him where I could get a cart. He told me where I could get a car. I should've been the one annoyed. It was quite an ordeal pushing the cart around with 150 lbs of luggage and a bad wheel . . up one elevator, over the crosswalk, down another elevator, down the sidewalk to the Hertz bus. Once at Hertz, I couldn't find my ID and started to sweat because I didn't know what I'd do if I lost it. After searching through 3 carry-ons at least, I kid you not, 5 times, I found it! This is what prayer will do. I have learned my lesson, too - Put things back where they belong. Don't just throw them in your purse.

The drive on the freeway wasn't bad. . except that because of all the cars getting on the freeway, I almost missed my exit having trouble getting over. On the drive, I was just loving all the palm trees and . . everything, really. I've been here before, but I'm so glad I have the opportunity to live here for a bit. My apartment is great. Though my roommate is out of town til Tuesday, just from walking through the place I can tell a few things about her . . . she likes video/computer games (DDR and SimCity Civilization), is taking some hard classes in grad school, isn't very fashionable, and is a big fan of potatoes (the crisper is full of them). Most importantly, she's very nice. She left me a note on my bed that was very sweet.

I felt like total crap when I unloaded and it was all I could do to even take my pajamas out of my suitcase and eat a granola bar (since I was starving). Wait - I did force myself to go to the grocery store across the street to get the granola bar and a few other basic food items. I went to bed at 8:30 and slept 10 hours.

Today, I met some of my co-workers and we went to Disneyland. They're from all over the country - Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, D.C., Virginia, Minnesota. A fun and interesting bunch of people. One guy is a bigger clothes horse than I am and appears to have a very strong love for alcohol. He brought SEVEN suitcases/chests with him . . and was talking about getting a "real drink" at 11 a.m. before we even started exploring the park. Mind you, he'd already had a few Bloody Marys that morning. One of the girls is looouuud and veeery talkative, yet so far it seems more entertaining than annoying . . let's hope it stays that way. Today - "Ohmygosh you guys, I just had my first star-sighting! I saw Brian Austin Green and I was like, 'Ohmygosh, are you Brian Austin Green?' and he said, 'Yes' and looked really annoyed. Then I realized he was fighting with his girlfriend." I'm wondering what some of these people will be like in the office on Monday.

Anyway, Disney was fun and I went on some great rides. I was glad to meet everyone. To be honest, it's kinda hard already, because everyone is talking about going out drinking and sure, I'll go out every once in awhile, but I don't drink much. In fact, I've really considered not drinking at all anymore. And I know I'm the only one interested in going to church, yet it's a bit scary to try to find the place all by myself. We shall see. . . I hope that I can get to know everyone more and enjoy hanging out with them.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Counting Down

I woke up this morning and thought, "Laura, you have two days to . .