Well, That Was Unexpected

Real life is stranger than fiction...depending on which authors you read, of course.

Monday, July 21, 2008

training in missoula; seeing the Frys and the coz

We're training in Missoula, Montana, a place very familiar to me as a stop on all 20 of our road trips up to Glacier in my youth. The air smells better here, fresher; it's a very homey and comforting smell to me. And people are generally very friendly. The lady at the front desk faxed something for me, free of charge and very happily when their fax machine didnt work. And people who ran and biked by us on our walk all said hello as they passed. very sweet.

not quite as sweet were the girls being interviewed to work at hooters running around our hotel which appeared to be ground zero for their hiring fair. i roll my eyes.

My cousin Garrett took Becky and I out on Tuesday night to give us a real taste of Missoula, which both Becky and I find extremely lovable. We went to 5 bars and a bluegrass hoedown. Not kidding. the people were young and deodorant challenged and danced like you would imagine they do in local productions of 7 brides for 7 brothers. becky met a mountain man with a foot fetish and as we were feeling quite charitable at night's end, we did in fact take our feet out of our heels for his perusal and i'm sure he was over the moon about it.

so this hotel has been rad. i have been soaked in starbucks' verona coffee and Tazo tea every day, they've provided breakfast and lunch, and have neutrogena toiletries. it's like the northwestern land of plenty. i, of course, have been pilfering all of said amenities whenever possible--i.e. when our snack was clif bars and at the end of the day there were like 10 left and no one wanted them. i am totally taking them on our california road trip.

there's an adorable assistant manager here who has taken chinese lessons and we have been chatting in mandarin at regular intervals. he didn't know who chiang kai shek was and iw as scared for him, as was becky the history teacher. i coudl see he was itching to get himself abroad and experience adventure. he asked why i left and it was impossible to tell him that someday you might actually want to move back home and stabilize. i just said he needed to do it for himself. i cant believe it has been almost 2 years since i lived in taiwan. crazy. i still want to know what part the whole chinese thing will play in my life. seems so closed now.

i managed to see the Frys on this trip. crazily enough they are holing up planning their next strategic move from Helena Montana. as God would have it, they were planning on being in Missoula in the same time frame as myself. they experienced what we later found out was the infamous montana summer construction delay. so they were cooped up in the car for hours. this will explain why the pictures have so much outside in them. we went to starbucks after dinner which sort of completes the circle of life as we were devotees of taiwan's starbucks as well. note that izzy has already taken to drink to ease life's frustrations.

awesome name alert: UNC wrestler

Friday, July 18, 2008

jet set

I just love Bill Nye the science guy. he's talking on larry king about UFOs and some government coverup conspiracy with some film crew who caught a UFO on camera. I mean, Bill Nye started out as a comicc. But he just looks nerdy so i think we should trust him implicitly.

i am in DFW--holla to your home, shannon. you know, this airport is really more like a sprawling minicity. gate D is truly adorable and modern, but even the less cool rest of it has quality drinks and snacks. I believe this is because dallas offers just the right blend of people who can appreciate expensive gourmet snobbery yet also appreciate the fine art of lard. speaking of which, i did in fact get pictures of the piggly wiggly and the drive-thru daiquiri in Marksville, so now i think I can leave there in peace without feeling a strong urge to return. The guy who was in charge of booking us for the training was such a sweetheart. he kept apologizing that it wasnt in a more exciting location. I hate to think anyone feels bad about where they are from. I'm like, I want you to love where you're from, baby. speaking of which, i just love the love in the South. They called me miss julie, or baby, or honey, or dear. I love that stuff. makes you feel related. our participants were really friendly, though by the 5th day they got super restless and we had to cut off like 2 hours of the presentations because everyone wanted to get home to their families.

oh but lets talk about the poverty in louisiana. katrina is not just a one lacation phenomenon, let's put it that way. we had to drive 100 miles to baton rouge and we passed through some truly destitute places.

oh, have to board--will post pics when i figure out how to get them on this computer--doesnt have the spot for my memory card like my sony did.

tomorrow is literally the busiest day of my life, ever, i believe. i have 5 engagements. wow. then to montana sunday. oi gevai!

Monday, July 14, 2008

from el cajon to el cajun country...Auf wiedersehen!

yes, I have arrived in marksville Louisiana. Thus named because someone named mark's wagon broke down here. i'm not kidding. if you hate yourself, go and look up the city history on the internet. it's already been an awesome trip only 36 hours in though. Observe:

one of the students in our training today came up to me, and said that on her certificate she would like her full name not her nickname which is Weda. i say "okay, sure, what's your full name?" she says let me spell it for you "A-U-F-W-I-E-D-E-R-S-E-H-E-N". i really thought she was effing with me. turns out her mother's college roomate was named Aufwiedersehen and that's who she was named after. not remotely kidding. made my whole damn day.

i am staying in what is probably one of the nicer rooms at the paragon casino and resort here in marksville. it is a room in "the atrium". The atrium has lovely little wrought iron balconies all of which have a beautiful view of...the inside of the hotel. particularly appreciated by Julie Inc is that directly below is a pool/pit full of alligators. not joking. they are small, but yes, they are real!pictures soon to follow (right now my internet connection even with my aircard is woefully comparable to various 2nd and 3rd world countries 10 years ago.)

we went and bought some groceries for breakfast and lunch from Wal-Mart, which we were told is the biggest and best grocery store in town. and yeah it looked like a moderately ransacked vons, allright--these "super wal marts" are super crazy. I desperately wanted to go to the Piggly Wiggly just to say..I had been in a Piggly Wiggly (much like i wanted to be able to say "i have been to Vladivistock!", but cheaper.) but John wanted to go someplace he trusted, and frankly, would teh piggly wiggly have had the light silk soy milk i so enjoy? it was risky. I vow I will get a picture of me at the piggly wiggly! ahem.

so for dinner John and I went to Big Daddy E's cajun cooking restaurant in the casino. we were wondering what their gumbo was like, and so we asked our waitress to describe gumbo to us because we were from california, and humor us, we didnt know what it was. see, we do know what gumbo is, we just didnt know what THEIR gumbo was like. Well, she is trying to explain and she is looking at us like sad lost children: it's like gravy, but not gravy, it is soup, just thick and brown, like gravy, but not..., john and i were thinking maybe the equivalent would be someone asking a californian what a california roll was, or maybe carne asada? anyway, she brought us a small cup of the gumbo to peruse. it was really not bad--chicken, sausage, rice. then i said i wanted a cajun martini. it was the first martini on the list, it looked intriguing and spicy, and was only 5 bucks. said waitress--very sweet and adorable (carded us and then apologized for thinking we were young looking, for which we gave her a large tip)comes back looking ever so worried: her manager doesn't think i will like the cajun martini. she says "just the flavors arent usually liked by...outsider yankee foreigners (she used the euphemism "people" in reality, but it couldnt really be disliked by "people" if it was the first martini on the menu, am i right?). the gumbo incident had surely already reached the marksville evening news and the manager was really just looking out for me...not knowing that my mexican-trained palate laughs at their spices. seriously, i eat tobasco for breakfast. anyway, i assured her that i just wanted to try it and was happy to pay for it even if i didnt like it. and it was sort of tasty. what it needed was salt, but it can hardly be blamed for that. the experience reminded me vividly of when i ordered my first chocolate hazelnut mocha in taiwan and the workers behind the counter kept whispering and i was like wondering if maybe they didnt understand me, or maybe they didnthave hazelnut, or maybe taiwan coffee was actually dragon spit with powdered bull horns for virility--you know, not "good for women"...but instead they were like "miss, we don't think you will like this drink...it will be too SWEET!" hilarious. and it took me 10 minutes to persuade them to let me live with my insanity and have the drink for better or worse. apparently in louisiana and taiwan i am a foreigner. nanu.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Today my fearless counterpart, becky, and I had to present for one of our most senior people. We take notes for each other on what suggestions are given since obviously we cant take notes when we are standing up training. After a brutal morning, I was setting up and using the clicker for the PowerPoints, which forwards through slides using a "trigger" button on the bottom of the remote. so i set up and point the remote at my presentation and say "BAM" at which the whole screen goes blue. Shit. I spend like 15 minutes getting it back up. Later in my notes i see that becky has written this: Julie broke the projector because she does not yet have control over her magical powers and uses improper word choice when casting spells. In the future Julie should wield her abilities with more restraint and propriety and a non-regional accent.

anyway, it made me laugh and laugh.

what did you guys do for the 4th? i said a sad goodbye to lauren who paid us an unexpected 2 week visit. then i sat around and was indecisive with my family, notably my horrifically sick father whom i infected with my cold from last week. the highlight was having owen and watching the fireworks shows. fireworks have gotten an upgrade in SD county i must say. 3d, glittery ones that keep going and going, smiley faces. very impressive. as for the rest of the weekend i went to a lovely wedding and walked over 12 miles. we did join the wino group. we were disappointed to find that the winos rarely actually drink wine after training. they sound scandalous but are really just very friendly and proactive motherly types. we love em.

speaking of my illness, i know airborne is scientifically proven to do absolutely jack to prevent colds, but my cold seemed to get better far more speedily than normal after taking it.

so becky and i are getting sent out into the big big world for training observation. First up--I get to go to Marksville Louisiana for a week july 13-18. weehee. a week at a casino resort that sports an aligator pit and a bbq restaurant and a steakhouse. carnivore city, baby. i anticipate some good updates from the crazy places we get sent, though i will not be venturing outside of my hotel for that week as i may have mentioned that it is in LOUISIANA in JULY. i am flying in to alexandria. i was like "alexandria, virginia?" nope, there is an alexandria louisiana. the week after that we get to go together, thankfully, to missoula, MT--old hartle vacation stomping grounds. hopefully meeting up with the Frys of Taiwan fame.

well, i have to go meet jill. hope you all had a lovely holiday.