Monday, March 30, 2009

Welcome back to reality

I shouldn't wait another 8.5 years to go on vacation. Man, i had a great time - seven days of living in a warm, sunny, rum-soaked, Caribbean dream. The food was great, the entertainment was great, the weather was (mostly) great, the ports were great, the activities were great, the staff was great, the ship was great - everything was great. Join me over the next week as i relive my vacation here at the Nikiverse : see 5 star food, meet some of the crew, discover how you ride an underwater scooter. The flip side of having a truly wonderful vacation is coming home and adjusting to reality. Maryland didn't want me to endure a long adjustment period so on Saturday i left the boat in Port Canaveral, drove to Orlando and flew home where the weather was foggy, misting and 52 degrees. Yikes! Twelve hours after i arrived at my apartment i had to be at work at the antique store and this is what it looked like outside my front door as i left : welcome home?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


In the midst of the hacking lungs and the feverish packing I attended the funeral for Kate P's dad today. Funerals are difficult for me (really, who likes funerals?) but i did well today, not totally embarassing myself with over-the-top blubbering and balling. I have found myself, however, pensive this afternoon. I'm at an age where it occurs to me that sooner rather than later i will have to do this for my parents. I think about how i have friends that i've known for 15, 20, 25 or 30 years, how those people will eventually pass and how i would describe my love for them - what stories i would tell at their wakes. I wonder who will survive me, who will mourn my passing. I wonder if i am living a life worthy of an eloquent eulogy. (Jason did a fine job for Kate's dad) I find myself thoughtful, but inspired to live a fuller life. To be a better person.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shopping Blues

When i was a 'tween i loved the mall. It was the mid 80's; my best friend and I would walk to the local mall and spend hours walking and talking and looking at stuff. When i was a teenager i was definitely a mall rat. My friends and I would hangout, try on clothes and spend all the money we had. I remember it being fun. What happened? I really don't like shopping anymore. Sure, the occasional antiquing is fun and i always enjoy office supply stores, but shopping for clothes and shoes just doesn't do it for me any more. I have a friend who would describe shopping as her hobby - she loves the thrill of the search and finding super discounts. Whatever. I love cute new clothes and shoes, but i want them to appear in my closet. I spent all morning shopping for cruise clothes and shoes. All morning. By the time i got to work i wanted someone to shot me in the head. I swear i tried on 75 pieces of clothing - at least. Blech. I have a clothing allowance so it wasn't even my money i was spending and it was still like sticking needles in my eyeballs. I am nearly done, though. I only need dress shoes, a wrap to go with my little black dress and sunglasses. So close to the agony of shopping ending and the fun of wearing new clothes beginning. I need a personal shopper - someone with a lot of time, great taste and the exact same hips and breasts as me so she can try all of the clothes on for me. Any volunteers?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Niki of the Dead

My plans to return to work on Friday didn't quite pan out. Fighting the virus all week left the door open for bacteria and late Thursday night it became quite apparent (i won't explain how, but it involves phlegm) that something else was wrong. Hello bronchial infection. Hello antibiotics. Hello three more days of laying on my couch. I had to call out Friday, Friday night and Sunday. Today i am indeed sitting at my desk. I've made it through the e-mails and voice mails and after lunch i attack my in-box. I need a nap. I am feeling much better, am off of OTC decongestants, only have a little cough left and feel only slightly like a zombie.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Of Quarantine and Mutiny

I had such high hopes for this week, so many things outlined on so many To Do lists - all for naught.
I woke up Monday with a scratchy throat and knew that i had finally caught the croup that the rest of the team had been passing around for weeks.
I downed some OTC meds (better living through chemistry i say) and set off for work.
By the time i got there i was feeling a bit foggy and asked team member AJ to drive to Virginia for our show (i prefer to drive in the morning). The whole way there i got more and more dizzy and lightheaded, but once at the school i went in to make first contact and set up the show.
The first show went fine though i could feel that i was really straining my voice, but by the end of it i was nauseous and achy.
During the break i rested in the van and left resetting the show to AJ. I went into the school long enough to perform the show and i can honestly say that i have no idea how we made it through the show. Fifteen years of muscle memory must have carried me through. I know that i did an extra section cause if i stood still the nausea was worse and i know that i spent part of AJ's section on liquid nitrogen throwing up in the bathroom and i know that there was a teacher in the front stage left who had long brown hair that thought everything was hysterically funny, but that's all i remember.
Things get really fuzzy after that : i went to the van while AJ packed, we drove home, i kept lapsing in and out of consciousness, i made several phone calls to rearrange shows for the next day, i was in excruciating pain...
We ended up at urgent care. I've never been to one before and it was an interesting experience (from what i remember) cause it was like the emergency room and the doctor's office at the same time. There was insurance stuff and copay and paperwork - i only remember that no one cared that i didn't have my shoes on.
There were tests.
I was freezing.
They had to take blood and start an IV, but i was so dehydrated that my veins kept collapsing. [man am i glad that i forced myself over the needle phobia a few years ago cause this would have sent me in to a heart attack]
I recall that everyone was kind and gentle.
At one point i told a nurse that i needed a bucket or a bathroom and she brought me a biohazard bag - that was really a boost to the old self-esteem.
Two liters of saline, a shot for the vomiting and a shot for the pain later, team member Felicia took me home stopping to buy saltines and Gatorade.
The doctors said i had a virus and i should force fluids and take tylenol - helpful.
The pain shot they gave me must have been akin to elephant tranquilizer cause the rest of the night is pretty much gone.
I apparently drug-dialed Matt and left a rambling (but according to him highly entertaining) message on his voicemail.
Let me know if i called any of you Monday night as well.
Meanwhile, back at work plans had been set in motion to get my keys from urgent care, take my car home, move my Tuesday show to Wednesday and cover all the shows without me.
A call came on Tuesday afternoon that i shouldn't come back to work until Friday at noon.
I got thrown out of my own office, people.
The team, along with Stacey and Pete and Erin, had rearranged everything so that i could stay home and recover.
Aren't they awesome?
You wanna know how sick i was?
I didn't even protest; i had one condition to my surrender (that a meeting with Northrup Grumann be cancelled) but other than that i was relieved.
The smartest part of the coup was that Stacey made the call to me : if a team member had called i could have said "no" cause i'm the boss and if the director of education had called i would have felt like i was in trouble, but having another supervisor from my department who is lateral from me in the hierarchy call was brilliant.
I just said yes and went back to sleep.
Last night i actually slept more than 2 hours in a row and I feel almost human again.
I showered, rested, got dressed, rested, went to BK for some hash rounds, rested and then drove to the library.
When i'm done here i think i will take a nap.
I'm really proud of my team and feel lucky that when they rise up in coup it is to protect me (from myself) and not to overthrow me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


We were getting lunch at a supermarket the other day. This particular chain has a REALLY good salad bar and you know how much i love a good salad bar. [why does salad always taste better in salad bar form than any other way?] As team member Amy and i were putting the finishing touches on our salads i glanced up to see this : Great googgley-mooggley! What the heck is that about? How is a demented chef with a vegetable perversion supposed to make me want to buy salad? What is going on with that tongue? Why is it bubble gum pink? I don't know if you can see it in the larger version of the picture, but he is nearly picking his nose with the tip of his tongue. And his eyes - his crazy, crazy eyes. I'm surprised i didn't have nightmares about this guy. I learned an important lesson this day : when at the salad bar, do NOT - for any reason - look at whatever is sitting atop the bar; it might just put you off your feed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Someone chose this

Here you see adult partner extraordinaire Jami checking out the seating in the gym we performed in the other day. The 6 molded plastic seats were somehow attached to the metal rail and the bench appeared to have been pilfered from a park somewhere. They are set against an amazing mustard yellow backdrop that ran floor to ceiling on all four walls - it felt like we were adrift in a sea of mustard yellow. Even the fact that the bottom portion was striped didn't stop me from wanting to sing out "amber waves of grain..." every time i looked up from the class i was teaching. [btw frack - it was The Bucket] What you can't tell is that the wall covering is carpet. really. How could i make that up?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

reimagining jewelry

Can you have too many hobbies? I guess the answer is YES if you run out of time, room or money, but so far i have just a wee bit of all three left so i've been making jewelry. I've done some beading in the past, but generally i've just been hoarding cool beads and findings. Most of you know that i collect vintage jewelry. On my quest to find different interesting pieces I keep finding lovely necklaces that are either broken or just not quite right (wrong length or overall shape) but they were cheap or free so i saved them. I've decided to use the incredible vintage beads and give them new life by restringing them into pieces that are whole and are more modern. Here was a cool early 60's choker in two textures of teal plastic that was both too short and had a broken clasp. I went to the loose vintage bead jar to see what we could find to add some length to the finished necklace I just love to look through and sort these. This was my chance to use the bead tray/funnel that Kathy V gave me, which was awesome but had to keep reminding myself to be careful of the open hole on the end. I found some oddly shaped clear beads with blue insets that were in the same color family Then i went to the metal box to look for something to fix the broken clasp Unbelievably I found a lone clasp with no necklace that was a perfect match so i used my favorite Craftsman mini pliers (lifetime guarantee, people!) to take the bead chain off of the necklace and hook, divide them evenly and attach them to the found clasp I then unstrung the necklace and tried different configurations with the found beads. There are no pictures of this step because i was really having difficulties with it fitting together into a cohesive piece; though the beads were the same color and from roughly the same era they just wouldn't marry. Finally i tried some modern spacers and voila! Next there was a double choker from the late 50's that was WAY too short Did people really have 12 inch necks back then? The beads look like plastic, but they are actually glass so the necklace was really heavy as well. I decided to tear it apart and start from scratch so i pulled out the beading tray that was a present from the lovely Rea and fiddled with it until it was one longer, lighter strand. Sometimes a necklace is too damaged to be saved intact This bad boy was short, had yellowed spacers, was missing beads and let's not even talk about that bumpy cream monstrosity in the middle, but there were enough intact and lovely beads to make a bracelet once i combined it with a little gold bow clasp from one of my childhood necklaces that i've been saving for almost 30 years. Some of these new pieces i intend to keep for myself (my favorite from this night of work that was just a broken half necklace that i completely reworked, but someone forget to take a "before" picture of it) while others i am going to put into my Etsy shop. In fact, when i took several pieces to work to have them photographed on people (team members Felicia and Carrie pictured above) logistics coordinator Wendy bought the 2 bracelets i had created from a hideous 1987 necklace before i even had a chance to list them. There are quite a few more pieces that are in mid-process. It has taken me longer to figure out how to do some of the ends and knotting and findings than i anticipated. But as i finish them, i'll share.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Standard Operating Procedure here in the Nikiverse is to follow the 5P's - Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance - and then be ready for all heck to break lose anyway. I feel like i am perpetually ready for excellence and then life throws a slider just to see if i'll swing or jump out of the batter's box. Understand that i'm not complaining here - the variety keeps life interesting - but at some point you have to just laugh at the absurdity. Case in point : after 6 months of sitting on the money upstairs finally allows us to buy a new van for the team. YES! But we need to do all of the research and legwork ourselves. BOO! Team member AJ finds 27 different choices for me. YES! They are all either just over or just under our price range. BOO! After whittling the choices down to three which we present to the COO and CEO we all agree on a top pick. YES! At the eleventh hour there are questions about our tax status that have me running around faxing documents well after everyone else has gone home and threaten our ability to get the van. BOO! The dealer works with us so that we can still afford to buy the van and have a little money for graphics. YES! Did i mention that the van is gold? BOO! The check is cut, we are going to pick it up and AJ is getting the tags off of the old van. YES! The last bolt of the second tag is rusted on. really. Rusted so badly that even with screwdriver and pliers we can't get it off. Rusted so badly that WD40 doesn't help. Rusted so badly that it bends the screwdriver. AJ and i are working on it, working on it and it starts to rain. really. We are standing in the rain with a pile of tools at our feet, he's streaked with rust, grease and parking lot goo, it is 3:30 and i have to be back to work by 5:00 for my Friday night shift. There was only one call to make : rip the whole licence plate holder off of the bumper Don't screw with me universe : i have places to go and people to see. I figured the dealership could cut through the bolt or something. You see i needed not only the tag, but the black EZ-Pass transponder (unlike commuters, business customers have to buy their transponder; that little chunk of plastic is $150) as well, plus i really wanted the plate holder left intact so that we can figure out how to reattach it to the bumper it came from. AJ took the whole mess to the service center to explain our dillema while i proceeded to sign nearly a thousand pieces of paper with both my name and title. When he returned successful AJ just turned the holder over to me and said, "I'm not sure how they did it, but i think it involved melting." Wow. I wish i could have watched whatever they did instead of doing paperwork. I bet it was impressive and cool; i image it involved an over-sized industrial dremel tool and a mini blowtorch. Anyhoo, we made it back to work in time with a new van with legal license plates. Now we just need to find a REALLY strong epoxy to fix the other bumper. I'll post pics of the new van once it isn't covered in snow and/or salty road gack.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr The only thing you can do in weather like this is make snow angels! Super duper fun, but ya gotta wonder why my head is so small. Perhaps because my back looked like this when i was done and i wasn't wearing a hat so i must have unconsciously held my head up out of the snow. Still fun.