Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reflections, Pt. II

I only woke up once or twice after I went to sleep. I'd be up a short while and then drift back to sleep again. It's unusual for me to sleep a full and uninterrupted 8 hours anymore, but I had a pretty good night's sleep Thanksgiving evening - something to be really thankful for. I had a lot of time to kill, but also some things I wanted to do and see. It was Black Friday, and there was a huge mall a few blocks away. I was anxious to go, and a little concerned that it would be really crowded. I figured I could always come back if it was too crazy. I think I took a shower, blow-dried my hair, and went to the second floor of The Tazewell to get some breakfast. Or did I get breakfast first? There wasn't really a lot available for breakfast on my usual diet, but I did have a bagel and some oatmeal. I tried to toast the bagel - emphasis on the word tried. In other words, I burnt the bagel. It didn't look like it was burning, but it was cooking rather unevenly and some of it was quite black. I decided to just have an untoasted bagel. It was safer that way. At least no smoke alarms went off.

After breakfast, I was able to get the key to the computer room, check my facebook for messages and post an update. The computer was exceedingly slow for the most part, and I had to chuckle a bit at the fact that there was a floppy disk drive. At some point (before or after breakfast, I can't recall for certain) I took a photo of the toaster. (I'm guessing before breakfast since the toaster has a bagel in it in the photo. LOL) The toaster had an appearance of age, and the timer was a dial. The Tazewell was a lot like that - things with an appearance of age, but still somewhat anachronistic. I didn't use the flash at all for my toaster photo, and I must have looked pretty silly trying different exposures and angles to get enough light and still have a somewhat sharp photo. I'm pretty sure a few people thought I was rather weird. I guess I never claimed to be normal.

After breakfast, I decided to make an attempt to walk to the mall. I knew the general direction, and so I just headed out. Along the way, I saw a Starbucks and stopped for a Vanilla Rooibos Tea latte (with Soy.) I usually don't want all the sugars in that thing, but I will get it for a special treat now and again. I reasoned that this was a good occasion for a treat. I also reasoned that I was a little cold and something hot to drink was an excellent idea. While in Starbucks, I asked direction to the mall and was given a little shortcut throught the building across the street. While I was waiting for my drink, I noticed a flyer for The River James. I had to take a photo as this is Jacob's (Mae's drummer) new band and I was pretty excited to see it there, and a little sad that I wouldn't be around on Dec. 14 to see it.

Once I had my tea in hand, I headed for the mall. I wandered about and took a couple of photos on the way to the mall and in the mall. The city of Norfolk has oddly painted mermaid sculptures all about. I wondered if every area had it's "ugly" sculptures. We have bison.

I also decided at some point to hunt for some black jeans that fit since I'd been wanting some. Most stores had some sales until at least 11 a.m. and it wasn't 11 a.m. yet. It wasn't quite as crowded as I expected, not deserted, of course and it was a pretty large mall) so it was nice to not be overwhelmed. I bought a small stamp pad set for a discount at Sanrio, then spotted a Toys R Us Express (I think that is what it was called) and found a couple of adorable dolls for my granddaughters for a great price. Of course, I had no idea where I would put the dolls to transport them back, but they were adorable, and I had a Toys' R Us giftcard that covered most of it. At some point I went to Barnes and Noble. I picked up two books, Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton and The Soloist. I could read later if I wanted something to do.

Then I wandered a bit more. I saw this amazing lamp that was on a huge tripod and tried to take photos. I was having a difficult time getting a sharp shot (no flash) and I had a nice little banter with the salesman who let me photograph it from inside the store. The price tag definitely was enough to give most people a little sticker shock, but since it seemed like a rather upscale furniture dealer, it wasn't too surprising.

Then I headed off and stopped to take a few more photos. I was just about to attempt a photo of the fun lights one floor above me and a security gal stopped me and said I wasn't allowed to take photos. Then she spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find a business office card even though I tried to tell her it was okay I would just put the camera away. LOL I was a little bummed, but it wasn't that big of a deal.

So, I set about in earnest to find the jeans I'd been looking for. I wasn't having much luck, although I did find a few things on sale at Charlotte Russe that I purchased. I stopped at one store that was awesome as far as having petite sizes for my short self, and they had some great clearance prices, just not black in my size. I did try something on there, but it didn't work out. Mostly I was finding black jeans were all "skinny" at the bottom and I needed boot cut jeans. I was referred to Forever Young's huge store on the first floor, and the jeans were all skinny jeans. I tried a pair on, but they were really long, and they just bunched up at the bottom and looked pretty strange on me. I did manage to get a couple pair of comfortable stretchy pants for $5 off their clearance rack.

After Forever Young, I went up to check out the movie theater on the third floor. Most of the third level consisted of the theater, and a food court. There was also a Chili's. After a while, I decided to have lunch in the food court and head back to the hotel. The plan was to come back to the theater later, see the movie Red, and have dinner at Chili's.

When I got back to the hotel, I read a bit, got back on the hotel computer, and killed time until it was time to head out to have dinner and see the movie. I ordered a Salmon dinner from Chili's and it was quite good and satisfying. :) Then I bought a ticket and went inside the theater. I had seen a trailer for Red online some time before it came out, and I liked the cast. For some reason I didn't get that it was a comedy, so that was rather a surprise. It was a little cheesy in places, but there was a lot of action - shooting, blowing things up, etc., so it wasn't dull and it was enjoyable enough. Besides, how can one go wrong with Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman?

After the movie I went back to the hotel and waited. It didn't seem all that long before Stephanie arrived, and I was actually expecting her a little later. I was kind of glad she came earlier than I expected. She said they were all next door (other Mae fans, and Zach from the band with his fiance) so we got ready and headed over to the Irish pub. Zach seemed really tired, so he didn't stay long, but I did have a chance to talk to his fiance for a bit before they left. She was such a sweet person. :) I was the only one not imbibing, so to speak, so that was a bit awkward at times. Everyone was pretty "happy" by the time we left. I ordered a soda (the only thing they really had besides water) and wasn't charged for it. I guess they give free soda to "designated drivers". In this case, I guess I was the designated walker since we were all just heading for the hotel. I was tired by the time we left. Stephanie was pretty exhausted, which was understandable, having driven from Ohio!

We chatted a bit and got ready for bed. Tomorrow was a big day. :)

End, pt. II

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Reflections from the end of 2010

2010 has come and gone, at least in the here and now. In my mind, I haven't totally grasped the concept. The last few months of 2010 were a whirlwind, followed by a huge lull, exhaustion and finds me struggling somewhat successfully with a lack of motivation. I think my theme is forever tied to a Dicken's line (it was the best of times, it was the worst of times) as that is usually how it feels to me. To be honest, I have been beyond blest.

Back in November, I pondered the idea of making a trip to Virginia to see Mae's last U.S. show. I have had an online friend for sometime, who is also a big fan of Mae's, and she was driving from Ohio to the show. We had bantered back and forth on a few occasions about meeting at the Norva to see Mae play a home show, but always it was "someday". Someday came and I was forced to choose - to give up the idea entirely, and let it go, or head out to Virginia. I started looking up airline flights and was discouraged by the cost. I didn't really think I'd be going, but kept checking. I set up a test - if I could find a ticket for $250, I'd go. After a week or two, I found a ticket for $270 and tried to decide. I went back and forth for more than an hour. My memory suggests that I bought the ticket in the wee hours, but it must have been later in the a.m. or afternoon as I was called back to work shortly after I booked the flight. The cost of the tickets came up at $250, although by the time taxes and fees were added the total cost came to $312. I didn't even have a ticket to the show yet. I didn't have a place to stay. I could write an entire blog on how nothing about this trip was planned out in advance (as I normally would plan trips like this out and never book a room or flight without a ticket in hand) and how everything did in fact work out. One wrinkle in the plan was that I had to leave on Thanksgiving Day in order to get the great flight price. So I did plan Thanksgiving a Day early. My family was pretty understanding, or if they weren't, they didn't let on.

I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, so to speak, and I must say, just a little nervous about it. At the same time, I was really excited to meet Stephanie. I also contacted friends who live about an hour from Norfolk (where the venue is) and hoped to be able to visit with them. I was rather excited about that as well. :)

Between working, planning to attend several concerts, and work the concert on the
18th, and watching my granddaughter, most of November is a blur. November went by slowly and far too quickly all at once.

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, my daughter, and her boyfriend, my granddaughter, and my husband and I had a nice turkey dinner with lots of trimmings. It was really odd to log into facebook with everyone talking about what they would be doing for Thanksgiving the next day after everyone had gone home, since truly seemed like Wednesday was the holiday and Thanksgiving had concluded.

But everything did work out from Thanksgiving dinner, cleaning up after, packing, transportation arrangements, and places to stay, sometimes last minute, but it all worked out perfectly.
My itinerary to Norfolk had one stopover, and both the flight from Salt Lake to Atlanta, and the flight from Atlanta to Norfolk left late, but arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I was quite concerned about any delays since the flights were timed pretty close together. An although, it was a bit of a hike from one terminal to the other, I made it in time to use the restroom and grab a sandwich.

I was able to stay at a hotel very near the concert venue on Thanksgiving, and there was even a place across the street open where I could have a grilled chicken sandwich. The service wasn't too good, but at least I had dinner. There Tazewell was also near a huge 3 story mall and within walking distance was a nautical museum and the USS Wisconsin, so there was a lot to do for the 3 days I was to be in Norfolk. I still had no idea where I was staying for certain since I hadn't heard back with confirmation from my friends yet.

So I made it to Norfolk in one piece without a hitch, with a room ready and waiting. The transportation I arranged in advance was simple and everything went smoothly getting to the hotel. The hotel staff was amazing and very accomodating.
I asked about an internet cafe, and it turned out they had a business center which was basically a small room with a computer. The computer was not terribly speedy and I had to laugh because it actually had a floppy drive. I still have floppy disks, but I haven't seen a floppy drive in a while. The hotel definitely was older, but also very nice. My room was on the 4th floor, and the elevater doors were mirrors, so you had to look twice to see it was the elevator. It was also quite tiny.

It was Thursday, I would be alone until late Friday night. IT was eerily quiet, but I was completely exhausted since I had almost no sleep before my journey. I took photos of the room, from the room, and self portraits in the mirror, had dinner across the street, worked a few crosswords, turned on the television; and went to sleep really early. The bed was very comfortable.

End, pt. 1