Wednesday, March 26, 2008

So cute

Tim and I have been reading The Knot's wedding guide book. Unlike the stereotypical stories I hear, he's been decently helpful and willing to participate in the planning process.

Generally, I do the leg work and then show him my filtered list of vendors or ideas. Most times he's fine with it though he questions why I'm thinking about details that he feels are not important right now. (Sometime he's right, sometime he's wrong.)

I really appreciate that he's willing to take responsibility for some tasks. It helps me feel less overwhelmed and that he cares about how the wedding will turn out. I've asked him to choose an officiant, interview DJs, and plan the honeymoon. Tim's already told me he really doesn't care about the florist.

As Tim was getting ready to go home, he recalled something and said excitedly, "oh, I have an idea for the banquet tables. You know how Pku named her tables after wines. I though of what we could do for ours."

"Really? I had an idea for that too," I said with a smile.

Tim paused for a second. I guess I should have immediately asked him to share his idea rather than equal him with mine. He asked me what my idea was.

"I thought we could name the tables after cities that we've visited."

"That's what I thought too," Tim said as he grabbed my hand. "We could put the city name in big letters and then describe what we did there in small text at the bottom of the table sign."

I could tell we both thought it cool to be on the same wavelength. I just love that he's thinking about these little details too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wrapping it up

As of Friday, I have accepted a job offer. What I didn't realize is that that was the easy part.

For the past day or so, I've been stressing myself out over when to quit. It turns out that it's rather complicated when you factor in getting time off between jobs, health insurance, and personal standards of etiquette.

My new boss would like me to start as soon as possible. She'll be gone for vacation in May and wants to make sure we have enough time to get me started with the new work. The drop dead time to start would be April 28th. We both agree, however, that starting the 14th would be ideal. (I will be getting stock options, so if I start before the 15th, I may get a better strike price.)

Somewhere in this time frame I'd like to take a little time off. Honestly, a relative is visiting and I need to clean house. Plus, I need to do my taxes. Then, it might be nice to use some of that time to do *fun* wedding stuff like shopping for dresses, invitations, and favors. I'm realizing that one week might not be enough.

As for where I'm sitting now, I've always been of the standard approach of giving two weeks notice. I was supposed to go on a business trip this weekend to take around my colleague who have never been to conference before. I'm on the fence about going as it is. I feel bad about not being there for her. I presume that if I give notice, they'll tell me not to go.

I still have more than one week of vacation accrued that I'd prefer to use than cash out. I know from others who have left the company, however, that HR is highly unlikely to allow me to take vacation after I give notice. Complicating matters, I have learned that my health insurance ends the same day I exit the company. There could be time off where I am technically on my own if I have an accident. I would have the option for COBRA but the forms don't come for a month. Therefore you pay out of pocket and then get retroactively reimbursed for any claims.

As I see it (unless someone's got a better idea) these are my options:

1) Resign immediately giving one week's notice (3rd), take one week off (with COBRA backup), and start work on the 14th.

2) Go on the business trip, take next week off, give one week's notice, and start work on the 14th.

3) Give notice today to leave by the 10th, still take 4th off, and start new job on the 14th.

4) Any of the above options but not start the new job until the 21st and risk needing the COBRA insurance and letting go on the stock price.

Even though I have every right to quit at any time, I feel a little weird about not saying anything or giving barely a weeks notice. After all, you also have to think about possibly running into these higher ups at some workplace in the future. Sometimes it sucks to have such a strong conscience.

ARGH. I think too much don't I?

Monday, March 24, 2008


I was sitting at the intersection this morning waiting for our turn to go. The car in front of me was a white Toyota Prius. The first thing I noticed was that the driver was holding a cigarette out the window. I promptly hit the recirculate button on my panel to prevent any second hand smoke from leeching into my car.

As we sat there, I couldn't help think about how weird it is to see a "green" car occupied by someone who feels they need to have a smoke at 8am in the morning. The car also appeared to have a cross hanging from the rear view mirror.

When the light changed to green, the driver took a few puffs of the cigarette and then proceeded to flick it onto the road. Simply put, I was really disgusted. I know the stereotype of the environment-loving hybrid owner does not always hold true, but at the moment, I wished I could revoke that person's certificate of ownership.

Why bother driving a vehicle that is good for the environment if you're going to pollute the planet by littering? (If you're curious about how bad butts are, see this.) Now, I figure this person either bought the car because: a) his company offered a big rebate to buy the car, b) they wanted to be able to drive in the carpool lane, c) they wanted to look cool. Clearly, this has nothing to do with them caring about anything other than themselves.

(Okay, I'm probably being overly dramatic, but it was just such a frustrating thing to see.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

The One That Got Away

All the stress of the past week has rendered me ill today. It would seem that a weekend of 4-5 hours of sleep each night, followed by a week of worrying and non-stop second guessing about wedding sites and job options took its toll on my system. I have been getting low-grade headaches every day this week. I attributed it to starting at my computer screen too much hunting for wedding stuff. The stress also caused my appetite to drop by half which probably hasn't helped (though it's been nice to see a couples fall off the scale).

Around 4am this morning I woke up feeling very hot under the bed covers. That seemed kind of odd given that the last weather forecast predicted a cold night. I actually sensed myself sweating slightly. As I lay there, I also realized that my head hurt. Putting the two together I reasoned that I might have a fever. I reached into the nightstand drawer and tucked the thermometer under my tongue. Three minutes later, the thermometer read 101 F. So I got myself a glass of water, an aspirin, and went back to sleep.

When I awoke at 7:30am, I took my temperature again to find that I was back to a perfect 98.6 F. Wisely, I decided to call my doctor's office for a quick checkup. She was concerned with my reddened nostrils and throat, but fortunately it is not strep.

This was all a minor inconvenience considering my anxiety over finding out at 11am whether we could get the ceremony site we wanted. No one seemed to believe my worry was justified. What are the chances someone would come in and take the place in 24 hours? It's a beautiful location but limited by it's small size and early closure time.

I called the restaurant manager and confirmed that we could move the dinner. Then, with excitement, I called the guild to take the next step on the reservation. The worst news in the world was revealed to me. The other couple that had considered the site a couple weeks ago had come this morning and submitted their reservation check. Heartbreak! Just a matter of an hour determined who got the place.

I could have simply taken the chance yesterday and written the same check and taken it. It was a lot of money, however, and neither Tim nor I were totally comfortable potentially throwing away the money. Still we were sad, I even found myself tearing up because we had come so close. There's no way we could have known when I started looking last week.

The event coordinator was sympathetic. She said that if we wanted a morning ceremony she could offer us a discount. Tim and I, however, both agreed that even a 1pm start would be too impractical given that people would be forced to eat lunch early or late. Plus, the sun exposure could make for some harsh photos. I called her back to thank her and decline the offer. I told her that in the end, someone was going to be sad to lose the place be it us or the other couple. I hope they appreciate what they have.

So it's back to the original plan we worked out. This location isn't bad either. It will be green and quite a peaceful outdoor setting. It's just that the guild has both the garden beauty and the architectural charm that I had wanted. (It also has a small indoor area that is a good backup in case of rain.)

Tim's willing to put off the wedding until next year if we both really want the first choice, but I can't imagine waiting until next March. We're not 25. We've had our fun being single and I'd like us to be able to move forward. Besides, my brain is just too tired to want to think or consider more options beyond the massive list I've already screened. I just want to rest and enjoy being engaged for awhile.

So the application and check goes out today for the alternate. Now, we have a ceremony, dinner, and photographer lined up. It's great to have a date we can tell people. Now I have to work on hotel rooms, invitations, and THE dress! I can't wait for the cake part... yum.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Two Cents

Don't get me wrong, I'm really thankful for all the good news that has graced my world in the past couple weeks. I'm now happily engaged and have a company that would like to hire me.

Still it's really frustrating because there are SO many variables and so little time. For example, I started interviewing for two jobs in January. Both managers implied they needed someone ASAP. Now, it's nearing the end of March and only one has made me an offer. When I called the 2nd company back, she wanted to chat with me for a 3rd time. After explaining my situation but expressing my interest in being able to consider them, she couldn't extend me an offer. She explained that they felt they were still early in the hiring process although I certainly has a friendly personality that would fit well with the company. It's been two months... how long are they expecting this to take?

Oh well, so I will be accepting the other job offer. Really, it's a job that I'm excited about, just not the commute part. I'll be going from using one tank of gas per two weeks to probably more than one tank per week. Ouch! It also means much more time away from home. That's something I haven't had to deal with for more than two years. I'm spoiled, I admit it. There are also some other extenuating issues that I have not been able to negotiate to my satisfaction, but I'll have to live with losing those perks.

Meanwhile, the wedding drama continues. Just when I thought Tim and I agreed on everything, we found a place we liked even better. They are both beautiful sites. Though when I asked Tim, he said, "on a 10-point scale the guild is a 9 and the tribute is a 4." I didn't think they were THAT dramatically different, but it's nice to see that something impacted him.

Now, we're trying to rearrange to get this place. It means losing our preferred photographer and shelling out a couple thousand more, but we'll both be happy. The drama is that I can't talk to the dinner manager because it's his day off. I have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, there is another couple looking at the ceremony site. If they choose to submit an application AND payment before I can get there tomorrow, we're out of luck! ARGH!

Then there's this dreaded feeling inside that I might be encroaching upon Chi's wedding. I haven't talked to her in over one month. She was just beginning the wedding site selection process when I left for New Zealand. Imagine the horror if we chose the same date, or the unthinkable, the same location! I see her Sunday and I pray that we're not on the same wedding wavelength.

Extreme adventure

So Tim and I are back from vacation. If you ask him, he'll say it's the absolute best vacation he's ever had. I do have to credit him with adding things to our itinerary that I never would have thought of doing. He'll also tell you, "you should go to New Zealand."

Anyone of any age can go there and find something wonderful to do. If I were younger, I certainly would have spent more time doing adventure sports. If I had kids, renting a camper and driving from park to park would have been fun. If I were older like my parents, visiting wine country, wildlife viewing and hot springs would have been fabulous.

We did a combination of these things. I can now say that I've been canyoning, black water rafting (which is really spelunking), jet boating, tramping (i.e. backpacking), hiking on a glacier, and... (drum roll please) bungy jumping! While I love adventure, I must admit I may not have thought of these things if it hadn't been for Tim's enthusiasm. We both desperately want to do more canyoning, but it's hard to find around here.

Of course, there are plenty of things we didn't have time to do - sledging, canyon swing, parasailing, sky diving (not sure how enthusiastic I am about this), helicopter tour, river boarding, mountain biking, and fly by wire. Just the thought makes me excited and tired. The dollars can definitely rack up but it's something I feel is worth trying once in your life.

On the mellow side, we did plenty of sight seeing. There was a Chinese Lantern Festival happening just when we arrived. It was fun to walk amongst thousands of locals and view the lanterns lit up at night. Being relatively close to Asia, there were plenty of food stands offering a wide variety of eats.

Down south, we did some animal sight seeing. The yellow penguins are a cute but odd breed of penguins. Unlike other penguins we learn about, these are solitary creatures who don't flock together. We also viewed a colony of albatross and cruised in a bay to see a rare breed of dolphins.

Did I mention we ate wild foods - grubs, worms, crickets, whitebait and more? I can't say I'd recommend too many of the offbeat items. Even horse burgers didn't really agree with me. The cricket was really just crunchy with no taste other than the satay sauce. We highly recommend the whitebait sandwiches.

If you're thinking, "gosh, she's taking awhile to post details about her vacation," I have good reason. From the start of the vacation, Tim was trying to figure out a good day to propose! Except for the days we were in wetsuits, he was always carrying around my beautiful engagement ring.

In Fiordland, there are areas that were carved out by glaciers to form beautiful water inlets. We took a cruise in one of these areas. The day started out rather wet and overcast, but on the return trip to the docks, the sun came out. The waterfalls along the mountains provided spray that created beautiful rainbows. As we left the boat, Tim spotted a viewpoint and wanted to take pictures. After a couple shots, he held me in his arms, kissed me very lovingly, told me he loves me, and asked me to marry him.

For a split second, I thought he was joking since he's commented like this before without being totally serious. But somehow I knew this was different, still it wasn't totally what I expected and my tongue started to formulate a question as I spotted a ring out of the corner of my eye.

"Are you going to get down on your knee?" I asked. (My friends all laugh at this.) So Tim back up a few steps, kneeled down, and said, "Now, will you marry me."

And then, I said, "yes." We're very happy.

It's been a bit crazy from the minute I returned. In my mind, I realized that we either had to rush to beat the rainy season, get married indoors, or wait until NEXT spring. Tim is pretty laid back about the timing. He thinks that if we take more time, I'll be less stressed. I don't think he quite understands that the longer it goes on, the longer I'll have to stress, fuss, and anguish over every little detail.

I think we're both surprised that in just ONE WEEK, I've managed to find a place for the ceremony and reception that we both can be happy with without breaking the bank. There are a couple wonderful hotels that we'd both love to use, but the $10,000+ more it would cost seems unjustifiable compared to saving the money for a house. We'll hopefully have confirmation by next week. This is another fine example of how, when I put my mind to it, I can accomplish things fast!

At the same time, many friends are telling me to remember to take time to just enjoy being engaged. I do hope to do that here are there. We have already gone through some minor tiffs. I told Tim that if he can stand me through this whole process, then we'll be good for many years to come.

It's kind of weird to have so much going on all at once. Meanwhile, I'm negotiating a job offer. If I do start a new job, I definitely like to get some wedding planning done so I can focus on learning the new job and not look like a total flake.

Now get out there and go to New Zealand!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Change of direction

I was going to write tonight and tell you all about my fabulous trip with Tim. We had a great adventure, probably one to the best trips I've ever had.

But, I have to stop tonight to think about something else that's on my mind. When I came to work this morning, I learned that my co-worker, Hen, will be out the rest of the week because her father-in-law passed away on Friday. He had gone in for surgery and died in recovery. Only one daughter made it to the hospital before he was pronounced dead. He had a miracle recover from cancer just before Xmas. It would seem his body exerted so much will to live during the cancer that it didn't have enough strength to recover losing a lung.

On top of that, I just learned minutes ago, that a dear friend's father has passed. She's been out in Boston for weeks watching over him at the hospital. She's been sleeping at the hospital and showering at a friend's house for more than two weeks. They thought the worst was over just as we left for vacation. Now, I feel absolutely devastated. Two deaths in one week is... horrible.

Knowing two men with loving families had to die so soon is heart breaking. They were each part of close families. The core of the family is now gone. What happens to the wife? What do you do when you're left alone after 30, 40 years of marriage? Plus, my friend's mom lost her sister not more than one month ago. Damn.

It makes me realize how fragile life is and how much I love my parents. It easy to take for granted that they will be there. Since they live out of town, I don't see them often and the changes to their bodies is all the more apparent every time I visit. We are not invincible at any age, just maybe a little more durable when we're younger.

I'm heartbroken for my friend because she is still single. I'd like to believe that most of us dream of walking down the aisle arm in arm with our fathers. I had always dreamed of having my grandmother present for my wedding and seeing her so happy. That hope was taken away from me several years ago. I could never imagine not having a parent there on that special day (and hope that I don't have to experience that).

Hen's father-in-law had organized every detail of his death during his one year plus of cancer. They have a script, they need not think just morn. In my friend's case, it's that much more difficult because this was unexpected. He was a healthy man when he came down with this sudden illness. Now, they must scramble to make funeral decision in what must be an altered state of mind. My heart goes out to her. I wish there was something more I could do than send a card.