Archive for September, 2010

Spa World

A few months ago, through the power of Groupon, I purchased a 24-hour pass and foot massage to Spa World.  This is probably the most unexpected purchase I could have bought for myself.  I hate spas because they make me so uncomfortable and anxious;  I fear that I’m not doing the right thing and people are staring at me, so I do my best to avoid them.  But I had a voucher that needed to be used, so the entire adventure cost about $15.  At the time of purchase I wanted to use the Groupon as a reward for getting the house in order and the deadline for use was early October.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  Turns out 8,820 other people bought passes, too, so I’m not that crazy, right?

Saturday morning of my visit I was all over the place at home.  Nervous and anxious and stalling.  I had a 3:00 or 3:30 massage appointment (I couldn’t really remember what time it was for) which forced me to go.   Yes, I was forcing myself to go to a spa…something about pushing my boundaries and trying new things.  That Saturday morning, it felt like the dumbest thing I could have done to myself.  I was dropping things, pacing around the house and generally fretting a trip to the spa.  Who am I?

Spa World isn’t like most other spas.  First, it’s located in Centerville, about an hour outside the city (I used a visit to Chic-fil-a as another form of motivation, but alas my phone GPS kept giving me the wrong directions so I settled on Dairy Queen.  That ain’t bad either.)  Second, it is a Korean spa, one of only a few like it in the country.  From the outside it looks like a big box store in a strip mall, probably because it once was.  Seriously, what was I doing here?

 

Spa World from the asphalt sea

Spa World from the asphalt sea

 

Their system used technology throughout the whole experience and that was pretty neat.  I told the lady that I had a foot massage scheduled around 3:30, but she couldn’t find it on the schedule.  She made a phone call, speaking in Korean the whole time then hung up.  Okay, I’m in.

Once I checked in I was given a locker number (2258 was mine), a nifty electronic key thing attached to a bracelet and told to put my shoes in the locker.  That’s the last time you see any type of shoe for the rest of your time there, but the floors are very clean.  They also give you some lounging clothes – orange for women and yellow for men.  Think comfy elastic waistbands and oversized shirts.  I could get used to that since that’s mostly what I wear around the house.  Things are looking up.

Okay, so I read about the spa before I went.  I had to.  Having lots of details and asking questions before I go is a known way for me to lessen my anxiety.  However, you cannot be prepared for this spa.  Naked women everywhere in the women’s locker room.  They do not allow bathing suits in the pools.  I go to my locker, put my stuff up, then do as the Koreans do.  There is this entire pool room, the Bade Spa, that uses water in the most extraordinary ways.  Different pools ranged in temperature, there were different spouts that shot water in different ways to massage different parts of the body, a few hot and dry saunas and some cleaning stations.  I never figured out the cleaning stations…you just have to go to understand it.

 

Who wouldn't love a pool with such a fancy blueprint?

Who wouldn't love a pool with such a fancy blueprint?

 

A note about naked.  People are either from a naked household or a non naked household.  Whatever you grow up in is your normal.  My normal was a naked household, which feels weird to type because I wouldn’t consider myself a flaunter of nakedness (however, this summer at the Corn Palace it was mostly so freakin’ hot that I refused to put on my robe so I got pretty used to walking from the downstairs bath to my room in just a towel.)  Here’s the best test: when your parents and siblings shared a hotel room growing up, did you get dressed in the bathroom or did you come out in a towel?  And now you know.

To see all these naked women was probably the weirdest thing about the whole experience.  You look but you don’t.  Then you don’t know where to look because you’ll just see more naked women.  I’m not a judger by any means, but there are just certain things you see and you start to wonder what is normal.  Thoughts like “aren’t you supposed to shave that?” and “wow, I hope I never get one of those” cross your mind.  I tried to relax and be normal.  God help me.

It was getting to be about 3:00 and I realized I had not confirmed what time my foot massage was.  Crap.  So I put on my pretty orange suit (it’s faded orange so it doesn’t seem like a prison suit) and start asking for directions.  One lady told me upstairs.  I went up some stairs and found an arcade and a men’s only room.  No dice.  Then the worst fear – they called my number over the loudspeaker.  The numbers were in English but the rest of the message was in Korean.  My worst fear of being called out just happened.  And you know what?  I dealt with it.  Yeah, it helped it was a number and not my name, but I still blushed.  Then I found someone to ask and they gave me directions for the proper stairwell.  I was only about 10 minutes late for my 3:00 appointment.

The foot massage was excellent.  It sort of hurt because the guy was getting some knots out of my feet, even from the tips of my toes.  I believe in the power of the foot to heal our body ailments.  Let me tell you, my entire body was getting worked during those 30 minutes.  It was nice.  Even nicer was the large flat screen TV right in front of me playing Serie A soccer.  I was finally getting relaxed.  Note: my feet were blue for the next day or two from bruising, but it didn’t hurt like a bruise, so that’s curious.  Makes me wonder.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the main room with a café area, mats for lounging and a few more hot rooms that were interesting in a good way.   For a few hours I watched football and soccer, read some magazines and just escaped.  That part was my favorite.  Since I had a 24 hour pass, I could have come back the next day.  They even advertise that people coming from Dulles and staying overnight could sleep on the mats because the facility is open 24 hours.  I think that would be cool to try…just a suggestion for the next time you get stranded at Dulles.

That neat little system traps your shoes until you pay.  You give them the key which has all your in-house purchases of massages and food and whatnots and they total you up.  Mine was $4.50…I only bought a water but I really hope there was some service charge or something because that is an expensive water.

All told, it was a great experience.  I would go back.  I liked the diversity of the crowd and that everything was in Korean.  If I’m driving an hour to get somewhere, I want to feel like I’m somewhere and Korean signage does it for me.  Who would have thought that a spa that has little English and amenities unlike my own culture is more relaxing than a “regular” spa?  And that’s why I do these adventures.

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Travel Month

September has been a crazy travel month.  I’m in the middle of three road trips in three weekends plus one business trip.  I realize that this is more travel and fun and games than some people get all year, so I consider myself very lucky!  I have two more trips to go, then I’ll check back in with updates.

  • I’ve written a post about Spa World, which was a unique experience, but I’ve left the draft elsewhere.  Be on the lookout for that shortly.
  • Cabin in the Woods weekend was awesome.  Not much to say about that, but I have lots of photos to share.  It was a glorious weekend of nature, sausage and laughs.
  • San Francisco and Yosemite for Kevin and Beth’s wedding was also awesome.  I got back on Monday and still have not unpacked mentally or physically.  Spending time in the woods with Josh, Neal, Christian and girlfriends was great.  And any chance to see Maria is a great time, too…I’m so happy she’s so happy and living her dream.
  • It is a good thing I have yet to unpack because I’ll need most of the stuff for my next trip this weekend for Andrew and Alice’s wedding.  I’m road tripping with the older Shinners sister, so that should be fun.
  • Tuesday I head to Indianapolis for a career fair at Purdue University.  This is my third year attending and it’s always a treat to speak with the youngsters.

Luckily October will slow down some.  I’ll spend the month prepping the house for a large housewarming party and generally settling in for fall.  I love fall.  I’ve posted some inspirational fall photos from the Cabin in the Woods weekend below.  Which reminds me, I’m trying to decide between staying blond (which is my natural color) or returning to red for the season.  Why is this decision so tough this time?

I’ve read that you should not put travel plans on your website for fear of someone breaking into your house.  Uh, yeah.  I have two other people living there and they will be there, so don’t even think about it.  Unlike the person who stole my bike tire last night from my front yard!!  Grr to you, back bike tire stealer.  And I don’t have time to get another one until next week.  I usually do not lock my back tire (most people don’t), but now I guess I will.  Seems like a lot of trouble, but then again, not sure how much a bike tire is worth!  Probably more than the whole bike, but it’s worth it for my mobility.

Enjoy the photos and happy Wednesday!

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Quick Blurb

This is a post I did not get to finish last week.  Posts on Cabin in the Woods Weekend will be forthcoming…

Things are going great here in Meganland.  It has been awhile since I posted…the makeover reveal post contributed 100 hits in one day!  That blew away my one day record of 75, so thank you!  You know I love my blog stats.

What’s new?  Things have been busy at work.  Still working for one of my favorite clients with parking work that I enjoy.  I had a six month review yesterday and that went well.  Every time I have to remind myself that those are much better after they are over, and there is usually nothing to fear.  I dread them anyway.  However, they are always constructive and helpful and the dialog goes both ways.  Kudos to the guys for sticking to their guns on having them despite a very busy week for the entire staff.

Did I ever report that Subsidized Corn is the WIT 2010 Cagematch Champions?!?!  Well, we are!  We had an awesome show that I hope to post soon.  We were just so excited to get three weeks of great stage time…the victory was just an added bonus.  Going into the last performance, we had nothing to lose.  That free wheelin’ spirit helped us leave everything we had on the stage.  We walked off the stage on a freakin’ cloud knowing we had done our absolute best which is the way I should approach everything in life.  The team we beat has been around awhile, and some of my friends and former teachers are in the troupe.  They are a great team, so the victory was a surprise to us!   Everyone did well and boy, did that feel good.  And thanks to those who came out to support us over those three weeks!  We couldn’t do it without your votes.  Class starts next week and I’m very excited about that, too.  Nick, Goli, Nancy and Hawaii Mike may all be in the class.  Woo!

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Booze Free

I’m still “Booze Free for 33”!  Yes, I had two glasses of wine in July, so maybe I’m a bit of a cheat.  But, I haven’t had a drink since July, so I guess I’m “Booze Free Since July”.  Regardless, this has been a fantastic experiment.

I quit drinking because I realized I had some concerns.  The spring was a very stressful time for me and it seemed I was drinking for the wrong reasons.  I wanted to avoid the stress of moving, dealing with tough communication, handling a mini home remodel, and other things that seemed hard to deal with at the time.  I’ve never been much of a drinker anyway, so more than a couple a week is a lot for me.  Now, I wasn’t consuming tons and tons of alcohol, rather, I was using it as a crutch during troubled times.  Then I really couldn’t stop.  Anything to take me away from reality.  And I did a few embarrassing things under the influence that I wish I could take back, but nothing too troubling or concerning.  I spent my entire birthday under the influence.  The entire day.  Who does that?  I quit drinking because I saw where that was headed.   Once I made up my mind, it really wasn’t that hard.

The side benefits have been awesome.  I lost those extra five pounds I had put on, my bank account is not draining as quickly, and I generally feel healthier.  I’m back to my old self.  I don’t need a drink to feel relaxed or talk about my feelings.  I have mental clarity.  I hope to keep this up for as long as I can, though I’m writing this post because I’m conflicted.  This weekend will be a challenge for sure, but as my parents taught me, there is a time and a place for drinking.  Hanging out in the woods around a fire playing poker with your best buds may just be that time.  However, I enjoy not drinking, too, and feel like having a bit of sweet tea vodka is cheating.  It’s what I would feel like if all the sudden I started eating red meat again…who and what does it really hurt, other than my conviction (and a dead cow)?

One thing I have noticed, probably because I’m more sensitive to it, is how people react when I say I won’t have a drink. They look at me funny.  They try halfheartedly to convince me.  They ask why, how long has it been and for how long do I intend to keep it up.  Most people drop it after this light round of questioning.  (Note: I had a killer date on Sunday who didn’t even blink an eye.  Very supportive of him, and I’m definitely going out with him again.)  Happy hours are not the same, but I still have a blast.  But think about what happy hours are…an hour dedicated just to drinking.  That’s odd, right?  An hour dedicated to putting toxins in our body to cloud our thinking.  Was the day really that bad that we have to do that to ourselves?

I’ve picked up on a lot more of how society tells us to have a drink when we are stressed out, too.  It is all over the media, often used as silly sitcom jokes or around the conference room at work.  I’m trying to think of better examples for the way society uses drinking as a go-to for jokes, but I’m coming up empty.  Saying you don’t drink is like a woman in her late 30s saying she doesn’t want kids.  Or like seeing two men in bed together in a mattress commercial.  These things are part of normal life, but not mainstream life.  Women don’t want babies, men share beds and there are people who don’t drink.  I consider myself to be pretty open minded, yet I still have stereotypical reactions to some of these things, too.  How have you reacted in the past to something not so mainstream?  Have you caught yourself reacting as society would have you react or reacting the way you really feel?

See what I mean?

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Makeover Reveal

Finally it’s here!  Something somewhat fun and interesting enough to steal you away from your work on a Friday afternoon….makeover photos!  For real this time, here is the finished product:

New "built-ins" by the fireplace

New "built-ins" by the fireplace

Welcome home new (grown up) sofa

Welcome home new (grown up) sofa

From the stairs...look at that light!

From the stairs...look at that light!

Yes, that's Jersey Shore on the tele

Yes, that's Jersey Shore on the tele

New curtains! and a dining "room"!

New curtains! and a dining "room"!

Happy now?  Yeah, me too!  I think it looks awesome.   I still need a few colorful details such as a bright colored coffee table and some accent pillows for the chairs and sofa (hint, hint Mel-mel).  The snarky chair may find a new home and may be replaced with a table to hold junk (just like the chair usually does).  I also need something to go over the fireplace, and I’m open to suggestions (hint, hint Cameron) and some side tables for the sofa (what, those last few boxes of tools aren’t beautiful?) The accessories will take some time, but that’s the fun part!  Now that it’s cooler, I need a throw, too, but I have lots of them so maybe I just need to throw it in the right place.  Next up, time to finish the bathroom built-in!

Thanks again to Mom and Dad who made this possible and kept me moving in the right direction.  Love you both!  Have a great weekend everyone!

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Makeover, Part II

Apparently some of you have the patience of a fruit fly!  Can’t wait for the next round of photos?  If I had to wait for three months for the house to feel like a home, and work for a long weekend, the least you can do is enjoy the photos when you get them!!  Just kidding folks.  I love your enthusiasm, even if I got called a tease.  Let’s just say it wasn’t the first time!

This post is about the process of getting the room fixed up.  As I said in the last post, working with my parents is pretty easy.  For 33 years we’ve worked together as a team, 31 of those were exclusive before the little sisters came along.  So I get the rhythm.

The fun part of any project is planning.  What?? That’s just me?  Oh.  Anyway, the ‘rents arrived pretty late on Friday night and I did not have much planned.  I knew the old sofas were being taken away on Saturday morning and we would have space to work until the new sofa arrived on Monday.  I sold the old sofas for the exact amount I bought the new one for from Meghann, so I basically got a grown up sofa for free.  Or rather, I got three sofas for $75, which is what I originally paid for the first two sofas.  I heart Craigslist for allowing me to make a deal of a deal, and I heart Jessica and Meghann for sharing their couches with me.

Saturday morning we got off to a somewhat slow start.  Deciding which color to put on the wall was the biggest chore.  I wanted a light rust color…but you know what that looks like?  Peach.  I really don’t like peach (sorry Lauren, but I’m not going with a southwest theme)!  My style is certainly more retro 60s, even before Mad Men came into fashion.  Remember my old place in Santa Monica was more beach 60s than NY Madison Ave 60s, but it’s the same era, different locations.  Much like me.

Dad and I spent about 30 minutes coming up with a plan for the “built-ins” that were not being built in.  We needed a tv stand that could hold our new roommate, the 46″ tv that was a new arrival as of last week, and all the supporting characters such as the PS3, Wii, DVR, cable box, etc.  Plus, it needed to hide all the cords (to show that a woman lives in the house) and work around the beautiful molding at the base board.  I wanted a matching bookcase on the opposite side of the fireplace.  Easy enough!  We planned and planned and figured out exactly what we needed for materials.  Come to think of it, we got exactly what we needed and we were able to return a few pieces of wood, too.  Great planning!

Planning drawings and paint samples

Planning drawings and paint samples

Mom picked out four paint colors, two light rusts, a tan and a yellow.  I fell in love with the yellow.  If the photos don’t do it justice, then you’ll just have to come visit sometime.  Seriously, this yellow is perfect with the couch and the chairs and the fireplace.  Mom also cleaned her heart out in the bathroom, and whoo it is Spaaaar-KLEE!  I kept my bathroom project going all weekend (I’m still not done with it yet) and there was sawdust on everything.  She cleaned that sucker top to bottom, and I still need sunglasses to go in there!  Luckily, she also made a beautiful curtain out of a great linen fabric, so that helps with the brightness and the privacy.  Bathroom posts are a complete different ballgame at this point and I’ll get to those when my project is finished in there.

I’m trying to draw out the length of this post so you can feel how I felt with the anticipation for the completion of the remodeling project.  Is it working?  Speaking of working, here are my two favorite helpers getting the job done.  Dad is gluing the cable cord around the crown molding…that’s right, the cable will not sit in a pile in front of the fireplace anymore!  Grown ups live here now!  And Mom is unpacking the last four boxes (in the living room at least) and dusting each item as it comes out of the box.  I told you she was a whirlwind cleaner!  Awesome!  Thanks Mom and Dad!!

Momma dusting and arranging books

Momma dusting and arranging books

Pops on a ladder gluing the cable cord

Pops on a ladder gluing the cable cord

And now we wait for the final reveal….

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Living Room Makeover!

My awesome parents came to visit for another work weekend over Labor Day.  Bless their hearts.  They once again worked their butts off to make my house a home.  I now have one more thing to be indebted to them for…not only did they give me life, a happy environment to grow up in, a loving and stable family, my athletic prowess, dashing good looks, charming personality, modesty, a college education and support up the wahzoo, but they have also given me a brand new living room.  The transformation is nothing short of amazing.

Because there is so much to say, I’ll divide this post into a few: before, during and after.  Here are the photos from before:

Living room before 1

Living room before 1

Living room before 2

Living room before 2

Living room before 3

Living room before 3

Living room before 4

Living room before 4

I’m so embarrassed!  That’s why I haven’t posted any photos before now.  It looks like a flea market in here.  Stark white walls, two couches that I love from the 60s but have seen better days, too much furniture (though the chairs under the blanket came with my parents), cables and cords all over the place, a tv stand that was free from our old house, a large old tv (and I don’t mean large flatscreen).  Tools as far as the eye could see for beautiful plywood accent pieces!  Oh, and about four boxes still unpacked.   So that’s what we were working with.

Let me stop for a moment to talk about how much fun I have building and creating with my parents.  We work very well together.  I’m Dad’s sidekick, but more like his right hand.  On several occasions he said, “hand me the thing” and I knew exactly what to give him.  I sometimes wonder if it would be better if we didn’t work so hard, and we could just go see some sites in DC, make some memories and have fun.  But you know what?  We do have fun and make memories.  I have a bookcase and a tv stand that will be with me for a long time and I’ll remember when the three of us had fun Labor Day weekend right after I bought my house and made it feel like home.  These are the times I get to look back on.  And I am so very lucky.

More about the process tomorrow!

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