The coffee-shop-first-meeting dance

17 Dec

There are few things more awkward in this wide world of ours than having a meeting with a new person in a coffee shop.

Yes, it’s great to meet in neutral territory — otherwise, one of you would have to be behind your desk, with your silver name plate and family photos establishing that you are the king of this meeting — but logistically, it’s challenging.

As Adam and I jump into the wedding planning process, we’ve had some wonderful meetings with photographers, videographers, and coordinators in coffee shops — but the few minutes before the meetings begin, I feel uneasy and stressed. Why? Because I don’t really know what this unknown person looks like. Here’s the process.

Pre-meeting stalking. If possible, I try to look up my meeting-mate in advance on Facebook, Google, or their website. Often, this is helpful, giving me a general idea whether if it’s a man or a woman and generally the shape of their head. However, these pictures are often five-year-old pictures that were professionally taken, and this person has recently cut her hair or wore a different outfit — how dare she! Plus, in these winter months, no one looks like their beautiful picture on Facebook or their website — everyone in Chicago looks like an Eskimo. I rely on the fact that thanks to this blog, my open-to-all Facebook profile, and various websites I own, my picture is all over the internet, so hopefully they’ve stalked me, too.

Reserving a table. I’ve been trying to arrive at these meetings early, often killing time by working on my grad school thesis paper — or, let’s be honest, looking at wedding bouquets on Pinterest. When I get there early, I try to save a table that can fit three of us, but then I become that horrible person who’s hogging the community table all by her lonesome. I spread out backpacks and scarves and paperwork to make it look like something very serious is about to happen, but inside, I feel like a one-woman army trying to protect my table from siege — and my only weapon is my adorable, apologetic smile.

Saying hi to everyone who walks in the door. I’m early, but chances are that our would-be vendor will want to impress us by being early, too. So for the half hour leading up to our meeting, there I am, flashing that smile at everyone who walks in the door. I pretend to be busy on my laptop, but not too busy. As people walk in, I try to catch their eye — if they just go straight to the counter, they’re probably not my person. But if they look around the room, I wonder, could it be her? Is this our wedding photographer? Do I feel a magical vibe from inside my soul, whispering that she’s “the one”? Nope, it’s just a college student doing homework, sorry.

Describing myself. Once or twice, I’ve said, “I’ll be near a red laptop and wearing a purple coat, and my fiancé has curly red hair.” I feel like I’m writing a “Missed Connections” ad: “I was holding my grande drink. You wore white earmuffs. You said to the barista, ‘Only three pumps of peppermint, please.’ Are you my [wedding videography] soul mate?” Often I wonder if I should put out a sign with their name, like at the airport. Dorky? Or brilliant?

Who’s buying? Okay, we’ve finally identified each other through one of these means, we’ve pulled two tables together, and our Eskimo coats are off. It’s time for the coffee dance. “I’m going to get a coffee — would you like anything?” Does that mean you’re buying? Or should I pay you back? Can’t we each just go up to the line separately? But then does that mean we have to chit chat about how much we do or do not like seasonal pumpkin-flavored drinks? In this department, I usually buy my chai tea latte well in advance of their arrival, or just say I’m not thirsty. Not worth starting out our meeting with the dance.

You know what? I think the next time I meet with a vendor, I’m going to ask if I can just meet at their office. Sorry, Starbucks.

Facebook, meet Adam!

10 Dec

Facebook has no idea who my fiancé is.

Facebook knows pretty much everything about us — our likes, our dislikes, our photos, our friends, our conversations, where we work, and our political views. Now, as face recognition technology improves, Facebook knows what we look like — so much so that it knows who to tag in photos without any prompting, even if I’ve never been in a photo with this person before.

But they just can’t figure out Adam.

It’s weird, though, because Adam is probably one of the more recognizable and memorable people out there.

At 6 feet 4 inches, my husband-to-be towers over mostly everyone; and his curly red hair is unmistakable. He’s pretty memorable.

Once, Adam and I were walking through his old neighborhood in Lincoln Park and we walked into a restaurant on his block. The hostess exclaimed to Adam, “Wow, you’re finally here! We’ve been seeing you walk by our restaurant for months now, and you finally walked in!”

But Facebook doesn’t remember him.

Facebook knows who I am.

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Facebook knows our friend Benjamin.

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Who’s that tall redhead on the right of the photo? Beats me.

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Who could that guy be? Is it sweet, brown-haired Carla, who stands tall at 5 feet 3 inches? Could it be Rachel, Ava, Tanya, or Alyssa? Maybe it’s Aaron, who has light curly hair and darker skin. Ohh, eighth choice down on the list, I guess you do have a lot of photos with this person named Adam. Statistically, it could be Adam, but I’m still confused.

Some people are bad with names and others are bad with faces; you’d think Facebook — a robotic computer program that does not need to rely on an aging human brain — would be good with both.

Sorry, Adam. I know you and love you, but I guess you’ll have to re-introduce yourself to Facebook a few more times.

Where are all the Princess Annas?

3 Dec
Left: Princess Anna; Right: Queen Elsa

LEFT: Princess Anna; RIGHT: Queen Elsa

Alright, everyone, this week’s post is about Frozen.

Now that I’ve got the attention of every little girl in the universe (welcome to my blog, Frozen fans! Do you want to build a snowman?), let’s proceed. Oh, what’s that? You haven’t seen the movie yet? Stop reading right now and watch it. Have you been living in an isolated ice castle for the past year?

This year, on Halloween, I noticed dozens of adorable young ladies dressed as Queen Elsa, the beautiful snow princess from Frozen who was never bothered by the cold.

The little girls dressed in blue sparkly costumes, and many even wore a blond braided wig. They looked fashionable, current, and so trendy.

But I think they picked the wrong Frozen heroine.

Princess Anna is clearly the better of the two women in the movie.

Princess Anna…

  • is spunky
  • is hilarious
  • is realistically awkward
  • is beautiful
  • has a heart
  • is optimistic
  • wants to love others
  • saves the day

Her sister, Queen Elsa…

  • is grumpy
  • has a terrible curse that no one would ever want (I’d be a fire-breathing princess any day over being an ice princess)
  • is isolated
  • ruins people’s lives
  • sort of saves the day, but only after Princess Anna truly saves the day
  • sings the movie’s hit song
  • designs and wears a prettier costume

Those last two are key. Come on, little girls of the world. Who needs a blue sparkly costume when you can dress as a strong, punch-a-guy-in-the-face-after-he-was-a-jerk-to-you, bubbly Norwegian?

Next year, girls, when “Let It Go” is still the number one karaoke hit at birthday parties and Purim Carnivals, and when girls continually ask each other if they want to build snowmen, let’s try to see some more Anna costumes.

For the first time ever: Five straight days of relaxation

26 Nov

“I could never go on a beach vacation … I’d be so bored!”

I’ve heard my friends say it, and I’ve heard me say it. I want to travel the world! Ride a Venetian gondola! Taste Belgian waffles! Hike Mount Everest! Why waste your time on a beach?

Well, I decided to test my beach vacation hypothesis. And you know what? I liked it.

I can be anything I want to be, and if I want to be a beach vacationer, well golly, I can be!

Adam and I decided a few months ago to try out a trip to Mexico. With our Global Entry statuses processed, we knew it wouldn’t be too far or painful of a trip to fly into Cancun and stay in an all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya. We booked our flights, our airport transfers, and our resort — and then we were done. No museum trips to plan, no internal flights to book, no reservations to make. Just sunscreen to buy and bathing suits to pack. Sit back, relax, and wait for the calendar to reach mid-November.

We were welcomed to Mexico with a bit of light rain on our first day — but seeing the pictures of snow back home in Chicago, we didn’t really mind. For the first time at least in my life, I had almost five days with nothing to do and nowhere to be.

2014-11-16 10.10.48

Turns out we both needed some real relaxation. We loved sitting by the pool, drinking cold water, reading great books. In addition to the towel art I wrote about last week, we participated in other fun activities like movies, Pilates, water aerobics, a bags/cornhole tournament, Latin dancing, working out on the elliptical in the gym, and even a (terribly awful) comedy and juggling show.

You know, that picture people take of their book, their toes, the pool, and their fiance floating in the water

You know, that picture people take of their book, their toes, the pool, and their fiance floating in the water

Water aerobics (that's me on the right -- the one five shades whiter than everyone else!)

Water aerobics (that’s me on the right — the one five shades whiter than everyone else!)

Cornhole/bags tournament

Cornhole/bags tournament

But Lia! Your eating habits are so … special … what on earth did you eat in Mexico? Well, dear readers, never fear. Our resort had something like five or six restaurants, including a buffet, an Italian restaurant, a coffee shop, a lunchtime place that had a salad bar and mozzarella sticks, and a Japanese restaurant (I ate fried ice cream!). The food was delicious, plentiful, and unlimited — ever more the reason for the elliptical and the Pilates.

We even got to spend a few minutes modeling on the beach with the resort’s professional photographer.

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We had a great time and we can’t wait until the next time when we can escape the snow and escape reality for a small slice of sun, sand, and pleasant nothingness.

The art of towel animals

19 Nov

20141117_171333I’d love to tell you about the adventures of Adam and Lia in Mexico — the beauty of avoiding the Chicago snow for a few days, reading books, exercising, swimming, and actually relaxing for possibly the first time in my life — but that will have to wait until next week.

For now, I have a more pressing issue from our Riviera Maya vacation to discuss — something of utmost importance. Of course I’m referring to towel art.

Our resort in Mexico offers a wide range of classes and activities every day, like beach volleyball, water aerobics, Spanish lessons, Latin dance lessons, nightly movies, and casino nights. But “Towel Art,” led by one of the hotel maids, was a class I was most looking forward to.

20141117_162026Before our eyes, we watched Emanuel fold a bath towel and a hand towel this way and that — and magically, with a final touch of cartoon eye stickers, an elephant appeared. Someone requested that he make a pig, and suddenly, the white towels I thought only served one purpose were transformed into a work of art; same thing when Emanuel made a towel giraffe.

If I had known this was an art, maybe I would have done some serious soul-searching before choosing journalism as my college major. Or at least I’d be more interested in visiting art museums. Or, in reality, I’d probably be slightly more willing to do laundry.

20141117_161530Thanks, Emanuel, for teaching us the ever-useful skill of making animals out of towels; and to any out-of-town guests who may be staying with us in the near future, let us know how you’d like your towels shaped.

Ticket to Ride board game: Unfortunately not a Beatles game!

12 Nov

Ticket-to-ride-boardgameBox“And then this weekend, over Shabbat, we can play the board game Ticket to Ride!”

I was so excited. It’s great to spend Shabbat with friends, playing board games — but who knew that there was a board game all about the Beatles?!

It was a few months ago, and my friends were making plans to play board games on Shabbat afternoon. I’m not really into the long, complicated board games about international wars or trading wood for wheat, but I figured, wow, a Beatles board game is something I’ll love.

Public service announcement for anyone in my position: The board game “Ticket to Ride” is about trains traveling across the country — and that’s about the extent of my knowledge of the game, because, upon learning this fact, I may or may not have shed tears of frustration. This beautifully named board game has absolutely nothing to do with the Beatles.

If you’re going to completely plagiarize the title of one of the best songs of all time, at least give a slight nod to the song in the game, in sort of a “we know this game is about trains but at least we’ll name one of the train stations ‘Liverpool'” kind of way. Or when you open the box, a tiny recorder plays, “I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s todayyyy, yeah.”

What’s next? A board game called “I Am the Walrus” that’s actually about zoo animals? A game called “Rubber Soul” that’s all about shoes? A game called “Because” that’s about subordinate conjunctions?

Beatles-MonopolyAlyssa, Avi, Matt, and Camila, my dearest board-game-playing friends: I won’t be playing Ticket to Ride with you at any time in the future out of shear protest. But if you ever acquire Beatles Monopoly, well, I’d be up for playing that “in my life” “eight days a week.”

This post may or may not have been written in the shower.

5 Nov

Though I’m sitting here at my computer, I very well could have written this blog post from the shower.

This past weekend, in honor of my 28th birthday, I received a unique and amazing gift: A waterproof notepad and pencil, designed for the shower.

I had requested this gift from Michael and Rachel, my brother and sister-in-law. “I’d like a dry erase board for my shower,” I told them. “I don’t know if it exists, but I figured if anyone in the world could find it, the two of you could.”

So, they presented me with these packs of waterproof notepad paper and pencils.

notepad1

I stuck the notepad and the pencil to the wall of my shower using the attached suction cups, and I was ready to write.

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Why do I want this unusual product? I thought you’d never ask.

My best ideas come while in the shower. With the warm temperature and the sound of calming water, my mind is clear, allowing me to let the creative juices flow without distraction. Many of the ideas for posts in this very blog originated in the shower.

To-do list items. When I’m not thinking of exciting, creative, fresh ideas, my mind wanders to my stress level and things I need to accomplish. My brain is filled with “Oh no, I forgot to e-mail my advertising rep at the newspaper about an ad we’re running” or “I need to buy stamps” or “It’s been a while since I’ve had dinner with Kayla.” I’m a much happier Lia when my thoughts are on paper (or on pixels), and this will allow me to never be more than an instant away from a pen. To my journalism, English, and writing teachers, who taught me to keep a journal and a reporter’s notebook nearby: You’ve again ruined me.

Memory issues. Upon seeing this gift, my dad said, “Lia, either your showers are too long or your short-term memory is not functional. Can’t you just remember these ideas and items until you get out of the shower?” Both may be true, but … what was I saying? Oh yeah, memory issues. I find myself making up a song so as not to lose my new thoughts — see how long you could survive singing “Contact solution, e-mail Rachel, blog about the vegetable aisle in the grocery store” to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

So, I’d like to thank Michael and Rachel for this great gift — and actually, maybe I’ll even write their thank you note while shampooing my hair.

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