Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekend Roundup: Wait for iiiiiit...

First, an addendum to the last post about silly neighborhood signs. By taking only a slightly different walk last night I realized I missed THIS:
Literally a foot doctor.
(toe)Nailed it! What a way to end the week! AnkleNFoot Center, give me a call on my 24 hour phone service. I can redesign that poster for you.

And now for some international dangers...

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Saw the Sign

My evening power walk route provides me with cardio training and mental relaxation. It also offers up entertainment of a different kind: amusing store signs. I finally remembered to take my camera this soupy, humid weekend and here is a brief collection.

Mile 1: Crimes Against Puns/Design/French
Exalonce/Exsalonce Salon & Spa
Gross! Backtracking on my earlier statement, this sign is more cringe-worthy than amusing. I assumed for months that this place was named "Exalonce" and simply hated it for a dumb misspelling. Then Google taught me that it is actually "Exsalonce"... big difference!  Fail #1 is that the cross of the "X" isn't graphically conveying an "S" to passersby, leading to Fail #2 of a bad pun. And tucked at the end is Fail #3, a snobby French c├ędille on the "C".

Mile 2: Self-Explanatory
Owner might have wanted to think through this name.
Gets me every time, especially given its yuppie neighborhood location. Membership also valid at its Chicago sister studios: Self Important Yoga and Self Obsessed Yoga.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S Business Travel

Growing up in Cleveland, I thought business travel was the height of sophisticated adulthood. My father brought me (and sibling) books and Fannie May treats from his work trips to Chicago. My aunt went further afield to Hong Kong and California, bringing back jade souvenirs and boxes of dates. It was like a exotic caravan stopped at my house whenever business occurred. I couldn't wait to get in on work-related vacations when I was an adult.

20 years later...

Turns out traveling for work is nothing like a vacation. Nothing! True, business trips as a senior designer for a publisher aren't going to be as swank as trips for a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. However, I just returned from a client visit to Grand Rapids and with that fresh in my mind... some observations of business travel reality:

Uggg. Enough already.
1) You're never going to meet sexy, witty people at your hotel. Forget what you saw in Up in the Air. The closest you're getting to sexual tension is being stuck on the fitness center treadmill between a TV playing Basic Instinct (soft core porn) and a mildly creepy older man watching slack-jawed. It is very difficult to catch up on podcasts with Michael Douglas groaning at top volume.

2) Location doesn't matter. You're in beautiful Michigan on a summer day? Well, I hope you enjoy the gray, windowless meeting room that looks the same as the one at your own office. Whoa, you're going to Orlando for two days in October?! Tropical! Oh wait, the conference is at the airport hotel? The breeze off the tarmac sure is nice this time of year. Reality: you've traveled for a purpose and that purpose is to impress your client and go straight home, not to sight-see. Those cool souvenirs I got as a kid undoubtedly came from airport gift shops. Not that they are any less appreciated, just that the notion of a businessperson leisurely strolling through hip local boutiques suddenly seems improbable.

3) You will feel like a child, but shake it off. This is a pitfall of my own making. I have not owned a proper suit since I was a senior in high school. Despite this, I have landed several jobs and am not a slob. I think "arty folk" get a bit of a pass on business dress. However, even if that pass is accepted, standing amid a group of suit-wearers in classy, but non-suit attire, will make you feel like an infant. Can I just solve this problem by buying a suit? Yes. But A) I hate suits B) They are expensive and C) I'd rarely wear it. So I suck it up in my business casual black pants and present my heart out anyhow.

4) If you can, drive there. I guess if you hate driving, this is not an option. Plus, anything over five hours is probably impractical in a car. But, life is a highway, man, and I'd rather have the wind in my hair for a short trip. The TSA frowns on travelers tunelessly belting out "Tiny Dancer" in security lines. No such law in the Interstate system. Thank God.

Could be worse.
5) Be careful what you pack. There is a chance that valued co-workers will see your belongings at some point, so pack conservatively. On my recent trip, co-worker #1 went to the car to fetch a computer cord from co-worker #2's suitcase. Co-worker #1 returned with my hot pink, mini hair iron, asking "Is this it?" Wrong bag! But a good reminder that people you respect are in positions to literally see your dirty laundry. (PS- the mini flatiron might be the best accidental TJMaxx find ever. Great for travel!)

I could probably keep this list going for quite some time, but five seems like a nice round number. Readers, what joys have you discovered in your own business travel lives?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On Pets and Other Patriotic Things.

America...fuck yeah!
Happy July 5th everyone! Ugh. OK, can we just agree that this is routinely the most anticlimactic day of the year to be an American? On July 4th you're gorging on flag cake and grilled meats, exploding things, putting the finishing touches on your tan, and misting up at John Phillips Sousa marches (just me?). Maybe you're doing all those things at once while watching a parade. On July 5th you're stuck face to wattle with the other glum Metra commuters. And there is no cake anywhere. Wha wha.

My fellow blogger put me to shame this year with his uberpatriotic D.C. celebration spot. Double fireworks all the intense! I'll admit to jealousy, but I did have a pretty good consolation prize. I got to spend a long weekend with my favorite house pet*: Okie.

Okie is my landlady's rotund and hirsute golden retriever. Golden retrievers are the most American pet you can have. True statement. Okie's a total lover, but now that warm weather is finally here to stay, he's taken up residence in the flowerbed outside my windows. Given that my apartment is ground level this now means I am greeted by a furry, panting face whenever I exit the bedroom. 

Having a house pet is great. I essentially get to play the fun aunt who swoops in to give rubs and feed treats, but then leaves before any actual work (poop scooping) happens. And Okie is an ideal "nephew" because he is fairly lazy and undemanding. In any event, he's loads better than the other members of the natural kingdom lurking around my nest. House centipedes...totally not patriotic, probably Commies.

So, the Independence Day fun is over for this year, but that doesn't mean we can't all plan next year's extravaganza. I'm thinking... parade of puppies on the National Mall, with sunbathing Marines handing out burgers while we all sing, "God Bless America".

* This is not to be confused with my favorite pet, period. He knows who he is.