Thursday, March 30, 2006
Um, yeah.. so.... I just found out I am supposed to BE somewhere tomorrow morning. Somewhere that is kinda/sorta far away. I just finished booking a flight online and I am flying to Ottawa in a couple of hours. I'll be back Saturday morning. Good thing my dad and I finished packing up and moving out of my old apartment Tuesday night!

Did I say the craziness was over?? Oops, I lied.
Be back soon!

Sunday, March 26, 2006
hotel life
Last Sunday I drove about 2.5 hours to the town I was going to be working in the next day. The idea was that I would drive there the night before so that I wasn't driving for 2.5 hours before working a full and long day. I would be able to get a full night's rest and start fresh in the morning. Sounds like a good plan, right?

I arrived at the hotel around 8:30pm and checked in. I asked the person at the front desk if they had wireless internet and he said that they did. This made me happy. However, once I settled into my room and set up my laptop I found that, yes, they did have internet... but at a cost of $7.50 and hour. An HOUR. Thanks but no thanks. Note to self: asking if they have a wireless connection is not enough, ask if it's free (as it had been in most of the hotels I had been staying in over the past month).

Whatever, not a big deal just an annoyance. Upon finding out that Desperate Housewives was a rerun, damnit, I decided to have myself a nice hot bath and watch a little tv in bed. Tired, it didn't take me long to start to drift off once I got into bed, so I shut the light off and started to snooze...

Now, let it be known that I am a light sleeper. An extremely light sleeper. It has been the bane of restful sleep for me and has cost me many a night's sleep. So when the heater in the room came on... and then off.... and then on again, I soon found myself waking up every time it automatically clicked on and off. I finally had to get up and shut the heater off so I could sleep (and nearly froze my ass off in doing so). Then it was the bar fridge in the room; it too clicked on and off as it regulated the coolness within. Frustrated by my continually interrupted sleep I got out of bed, pulled the fridge out from the wall and unplugged it. Ahh.. at last, sleep.

One thing stood between me and my sleep and it was something I had missed earlier, likely due to the other noises (tv included); the ice machine out in the hall, across from my room. Every single hour at around the same time it dropped a load of freshly made ice into the bin below. The sound was akin to a crash and if you happen to be asleep... it doesn't just wake you up, it startles you awake. Indeed, if you happen to manage to get somewhat deeply asleep within that hour it downright scares you awake. Hour, after hour, after hour. I nearly lost my mind.

Eventually I got up and dug through my luggage until I found my earplugs and I jammed them in deep. By then it was about 4:30am and I got only 2 hours of real sleep. When I checked out I thanked them profusely for putting me right by the ice machine and advised that they keep that in mind when checking others in. For me, it goes on my list of questions to ask at the hotel desk, right along with "is the internet connection free?".

The next day I was in the store by 7:30am to set up the new display and out by about 1pm. I grabbed lunch at a restaurant nearby and drove to my next town, an hour away. There I began my next store setup and finished at 10pm. My day was LONG and I was beyond whipped. Being the small town that it was I had a bit of difficulty finding somewhere to eat before looking for a hotel so I decided to grab a hotel room and order a pizza.

When I checked into my hotel of choice I was smart and asked where the ice making machine was (I didn't bother with internet, I was too tired anyway). I was assured that the ice machine was on another floor altogether, so I was happy. However, when I got to my room I learned a new lesson about what to ask at the front desk; does the room have a tub? Sadly, this one did not and after a 15 hour day I like to 'soak my bones' and sore feet in nice hot water. I was devastated to find I wouldn't be able to and had to settle for a long hot shower instead.

Eventually my pizza came and I wolfed it down and watched a bit of tv. Exhausted and unable to keep my eyes open I shut the lights off and fell asleep.... until about 1am when a baby started crying out in the hall. "What the hell??" I thought, "Who takes a baby out in the hall to quiet it? Way to wake up everyone in the hotel!". I tried peering through the peephole to see what was going on but couldn't see anything. I climbed back into bed and fell asleep when the baby finally stopped crying. I was awoken two hours later when it started crying again, and it was then that I realized that it wasn't in the hallway.... it was in the room next to me, and that little door between the rooms did a lousy job of separating me from them and their sound.

The baby continued to wake me up every 2 hours until I once again dug out the earplugs, but it was far too late by then. It was another sleepless night for me, and a nearly 4 hour drive home in the morning. When I checked out of the hotel I suggested to the hotel clerk that when they check in a family with a baby it would just be swell if they made an effort to keep them away from the general sleeping population. Or at least make an effort and ask if the child usually sleeps through the night! Ucch, I hate it when hotels are lazy and put everyone on the same floor so that housecleaning doesn't have so far to go to clean.

So. What did I learn from this trip? (1) ask if they have wireless internet in the rooms and if it is free. (2) ask if the room has a tub. (3) ask if there is an ice machine or baby in the vicinity of my room.

Lesson learned!

Now I am back in town for the forseeable future, though my job does have me on the road much of the time and I will have overnight trips at least twice a month. Good thing I know what questions to ask now, isn't it? ;-)

I spent my weekend trying to get organized and to pack. I have to move out of my old apartment by Friday night and take possession of my new place on Saturday. I have decided to move my stuff out of my old place and into my parent's garage so that I can paint my new apartment however I like before I move in. Afterall, it's not crucial when I move in to the new place so much as it's crucial that I get out of the old one. Having lived on the move and out of a suitcase for about 7 months now, I am looking forward to finally settling in again and starting fresh. Anyone wanna help paint? (and hey, Sam, Mulder, I'll have a spare room and bed if you wanna come hang out!)

Sunday, March 19, 2006
home again, gone again
After being on the road off and on for the better part of 7 weeks, a girl can start to get a little confused about where she is. And fatigue tends to set in can impair judgment and ability to reason out situations. Mostly I just forget where I am when I wake up in the middle of the night and have to remember I am in such-in-such hotel, in such-in-such town. It's starting to make me feel a bit crazy.

My week started off with a big ole meeting that my boss had tapped me to represent our company for when our largest client had called ourselves and the 2 other major vendors in our department/category. The big rollout with our company had been put on hold due to "issues" and we all had been called to the carpet to sort it out. I felt pretty damn good being asked to represent our company at this meeting as it is very early on in my career with them. It was a good meeting and my boss, who listened in via conference call, called me afterwards and told me I was "tha bomb". I tried to act humble but I admit, I was pleased with myself. ;-)

After that I headed up north to continue the rollout of my company's product up in the northern stores. Sudbury and North Bay, Ontario were my destinations. Before I continued to those towns, however, I spent a night over at grandma's (about 2 hours north of Toronto); it allowed to me to spend some quality time with her and gave me a fresh start to work from the next day, as it was only an hour's drive to my first store in North Bay.

That all seemed like a good idea until the storm rolled in. We got the snow, the wind, the thunder... the whole bit. And when I awoke the next morning the power was off in my grandma's home and clearly I wasn't going to be driving anywhere. I called my boss to let him know and decided to wait the storm out. By noon, however, I was getting anxious to get on with it and so I loaded up my car and headed out. Foolish idea number 1.

The driving was, not surprisingly, horrible. The wind blew my car back and forth on the highway and I had to grip my steering wheel like a monkey if I was going to keep the car in my own lane. After a tiring hour+ drive I arrived at my first store and proceeded to put in a little over 8 hours of work. By the time I left it was about 9:45pm and I settled into the hotel across the street. Once I settled into my room I decided to order myself a pizza and have it delivered to my room (foolish idea number 2). I was tired, my feet were aching and the weather was freezing. I just wanted to eat and sleep.

When my pizza arrived at my door I grabbed my wallet to pay the man only to find out... I didn't have enough cash. Not at all. I turned and asked if he took Visa, to which he said no. Puzzled I asked why not and he said that he didn't actually work for the pizza place, he's just a middle guy who delivers it (as he delivers for a lot of restaurants in the area). I called the pizza place to see if they could charge it to my card after the fact, but lucky me!, they were now closed (it was about 10:30pm).

I told the guy to come with me and we could see if there was a bank machine in the hotel lobby; no such luck. I asked the girl at the counter if she could add $20 to my hotel tab and give me cash back, to which she said no (despite my repeated pleas). I asked where the closest bank machine was and she told me at the donut shop down the street. Growling that my pizza was getting cold I ran back to my room to get my car keys and wallet. Back in the lobby I asked where exactly where this coffee shop was and she pointed in the direction. The pizza guy then offered to just drive me there and bring me back and I relented and agreed (foolish idea number 3?). As I got in his car I remarked to him that I was pretty sure my mother warned me against getting into cars with strangers and we both had a little laugh. 2 minutes later we were back at the hotel, he was paid and I was sitting down with cold pizza. Annoyingly it was among the worst pizza I've ever eaten. Lesson learned. Hey, at least I had an episode of Battlestar Galactica loaded up on my computer to watch.

The next day was another delightful drive in the snow and another store to set up. Things moved fairly smoothly (8 hours in store) and after 2 hours driving back to grandma's again I was warming up with a homemade meal. Gotta love grandma's cooking after 3 hours of snowy driving!

Eventually I made my way back home and discovered just how filthy my car was from all the snowstorm driving. You couldn't even tell my car is blue!! Go ahead, click the pic for a larger image.

This weekend was about catching up on paperwork and emails and catching up with friends. My friend who recently had her baby had the traditional Chinese celebration for a baby's 1 month birthday (though they waited a month longer). We had a HUGE Chinese meal complete with all kinds of foods I didn't know and many with their cooked heads still attached and on the platter (as can be seen by the chicken head). I loved it!!

It was an awesome meal and a wonderful celebration. What a great tradition, and I was honoured to be invited. And what a beautiful baby!!

As for me I am packing up yet again and leaving in a couple of hours. This time I'm heading east instead of north; Kingston and Brockville. I should be back Wednesday night. I'm taking my laptop in the event I can get online in my hotel. *fingers crossed*

Hope I didn't bore you too much! Things will be back to normal soon, I promise. Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, March 12, 2006
it's a good thing I love my new job...
Oy, what a week. I was supposed to be out of town this weekend but due to some issues cropping up I have been asked to stay in town and attend a meeting Monday morning. This afforded me a chance to be home for the weekend to do laundry, some paperwork and get organized for another week out on the road. Looks like I might be in Montreal next week, when I finish up my area, to give my Quebec counterpart a hand. I adore her so I'm all for helping out if I can.

Anyway! That's all boring to you, I'm sure, but sadly I have little else to offer in the way of conversation. I've been working monster hours these days, walking out the door at 7am and crawling back in at 10:30pm and into bed, only to get up and do it all again 8 hours later. Good fun! Painkillers and hot baths have been a staple of my getting-ready-for-bed routine. That and massaging my feet in order to make them stop hurting long enough for me to fall asleep.

All that being said I am (still!) happy in my job. The crazy hours were to be expected and it won't always be like this. By the end of the month things should settled down... hopefully soon enough to afford me an opportunity to pack and move into my new place. Whew. Now THAT'S a busy schedule.

I managed to make time talk to a few friends this weekend; saw an old buddy of mine (and sometime commentor, Melra) on Friday night and we sat up and talked until 4am (how I stayed up that late after working all day is still a mystery to me). Today I talked to my friend Mulder who was sweet enough to call me all the way from Israel and make my day, as his voice *always* cheers me up. And tonight I'm off to see a some friends of mine and their new baby.

That's about all I have for now; I leave tomorrow afternoon for the great white north to work my butt off some more and will stay at Grandma's until Thursday morning and then I am on the road again heading south east.

I shall part by leaving you a couple of pictures from yesterday; my mom and I decided to go for a walk in a ravine/park and thought it would be a great plan to bring my cat Isaac. How cute is he?!?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006
all work and no play makes celestial blue a dull girl
14 hour days for the next two weeks means I may not have anything intelligent to post for the next few days.... I'll try and put some amusing pics up if I can.

In the meantime why don'tcha go over and see Occasional Bitch. She's pretty funny. Or go see my homegirl Cassiopeia (she's from my hometown, Hamilton).

And one day when I have a life again I will regale you with all kinds of stories, I promise!

Sunday, March 05, 2006
Working with Americans, PT 3
I am back, alive, and well! Sorry I didn't post while I was gone but I simply wasn't willing to pay $10 US a day for an internet connection I was only going to have maybe an hour a day to use. The meetings went from 8am to 5:30pm with dinner being 6:30pm to 10pm. We were kept quite busy. Having spent 3 of the last 4 weeks traveling in the USA and staying in cheaper hotels (than this one in Texas) that had FREE internet in the rooms I got a little indignant that this nicer, more 'posh', hotel had the nerve to charge daily for the same service.

But I digress.
My trip started off just right; despite driving to the airport more times in my life than I can count I found that I am not a particularly sharp individual in the darkness of 5am. I missed my exit no less than three times as I drove back and forth and swore like a trucker everytime I missed it yet again. By the time I got to the Park N' Fly parking lot I was rewarded for my efforts with a spectacular wipeout on a lake of ice that on a better day I'm sure I would have noticed, but for the aforementioned reasons (darkness and 5am) it eluded me and I paid the price. Before I even had time to register what had happened I was on my ass, my luggage on the ground behind and beside me and my wrist protesting the event that had just occurred. I sat blankly on the ice for a moment trying to assess just how it was that I got there before I realized I was running quite late and that no one was around to help me up. Grunting, groaning, and rubbing my wrist I hiked my way to the shuttle station to be picked up.

The trip improved after that as I met up with my co-worker and we sat together for the flights (Toronto to Dallas to San Antonio, Texas). My recent turn in my 'flying personality' has continued resulting in palms so sweaty they look like mini Dead Seas. The flights themselves were actually not too bad, but that helped only marginally. Seems I am just determined to be terrified of flying.

Once landed my fellow Ontario co-worker and I settled into our room and decided to go for a walk to seek out drinks (the room had two bottles of water in it but drinking them meant you'd be charged $3.50 a piece to your room! wha?!?!). We finally found a convenience store (after taking the longest possible route and eventually asking for directions) and then proceeded to get quite lost trying to return to our hotel. It didn't help that people kept giving us different directions, I might point out.

As for the sales conference itself, it was pretty good. There were only 5 of us Canadians out of 173 which meant we put up with a lot of peculiar attention from our Americans, often in the form of ignorant remarks and insults and less than funny jokes. For example.....

Our company had the third floor meeting rooms rented out and during the course of the day we would rotate about between rooms for various sessions. To keep us awake and happy there was water and little mini chocolate bars and candies left out for us on the tables in each room. Different rooms had different candies which gave us something to look forward to in a sea of energy sucking presentations.

Upon entering one of the rooms I saw that there were mini Tootsie Rolls on the table, which had been previously unavailable to me. In my excitement I cried outloud "Tootsie Rolls!!" with the greatest of enthusiasm, to which one of the Americans at the table said "Oh, right, you guys don't have Tootsie Rolls in Canada" (spoken with a thick southern accent). Annoyed by his remark I shot him a look and said that yes, we DO have them in Canada, thankyouverymuch. The woman beside me then said "Yeah, I.." which drew my attention in her direction to listen to the rest of her sentence only to find out that *was* the sentence. Puzzled by the incomplete sentence I looked at her with my most confused face and she repeated "I !", with some excitement, and seeing that I was even more confused than ever she said "isn't that what they say in Canada? Aye?". With a mixture of amusement and sheer annoyance I replied "you mean EH??" to which she sheepishly said "is it eh? oh... sorry it's been a while". A while since what I didn't know and didn't care. She won the prize for the dumbest American remark for the whole week (though there were plenty of remarks competing for top dog). Look, if you're going to insult a Canadian, at least do it right.

And so it was working and living among my American brethren for a week in Texas, the state most opposite to Canada, ever. The favourite game at the dinner table at any given night was asking everyone what their education was (most loved to brag of their degrees) and then asking them who the Canadian prime minister is or how many provinces they can name (I could name countless American politicians and likely all 50 states if given enough time). Perhaps it was cruel of me but some of them just needed to be taken down a notch. It just took one too many "eh" jokes to drive me to put the person in his/her place. Swiftly and easily.

Wednesday night we were allowed a free night out on the town (which was nice considering I never even saw the light of day on Tuesday, having spent the *entire* day in the hotel) and if it's one thing I learned about my new place of employment it's they are a group of drinkers and partiers. While I am content to crash out in my room and hit the hay early, these guys are out drinking and having a crazy time until all hours. In an effort to be social I headed out with the gang (my boss included) to the famous River Walk in San Antonio. The River Walk is the strip along each side of the San Antonio river made up of all kinds of shops, restaurants and bars. The nightlife is loud, and ongoing, well into the night. It was nice to leave a country full of ice to arrive in a place full of beautiful sights, sounds and smells. As you walk along the river you pass by bars playing every manner of music and serving up various kinds of food. I loved the ambiance and feel of it and reveled in the idea that I was walking around in a t-shirt.

I was lucky enough to escape 2.5 hours early out of the last meeting on the last day (since the presentation didn't pertain to we Canadians) and my Quebec counterpart and I finally got to do the River Walk during the day (we really lucked out since the River Walk was *right* by the hotel). We strolled around and snapped tons of pictures like dutiful little tourists. I bought a few trinkets to bring home and we sat by the river and ate nachos with salsa and sour cream. It was a gorgeous day and those few hours along the river made the trip for me. Also, it was nice to eat away from the food supplied to our company by the hotel because it. was. HORRIBLE.

And that's about it, I think...... if you wish to see more pictures head on over to my photoblog. This week I am on the road here in Ontario as I meet up with two American counterparts whom I adore (I worked with them in New York a few weeks back) and begin to set up stores. I will be home most nights for the first week, but the second week I will be staying in hotel rooms all over Ontario (and yes, I'll be choosing my rooms based on internet capabilities. hahaha). One such hotel will be known as Hotel Grandma, where I hope to spend a few nights. :-)

Have a great week, everyone!