An amazing vet, typhoid medicine, and a trip to Orlando

So, first things first, we have an amazing vet.  I was texting Brian about my crappy run this afternoon, and he told me to come home – that he had something that would make me smile.  When I got home, he handed me a letter from the UC Davis Vet school.  As I pulled out the letter, I tried to figure out why we might have received it, but I couldn’t think of one.  As I began to read the letter, I almost cried. It was a letter informing us that our vet had made a donation to the school in the name of our cat, Gordon.  The cat we loved, and she had only known in the last few days of his life. We already knew she was amazing (seven hills vet in diamond heights – go there), but this is so above and beyond. I can’t think of a better way to remember my first mammal pet.

In other news, we had our annual field conference last week in Orlando. It was a good time, but exhausting. I flew in early to help, whichever as quite the adventure.  I started the following during my travel adventure, but never got a chance to finish and post it:

I love Uber…order on the phone and a ride shows up three minutes later – even at 4am. However, the adventure began once I got to the airport.  But, flying united is never anything less…

So, first, I get to the airport and try to check in…should be easy. Swipe credit card and enter destination. Of course the system tells me that my ticket and itinerary don’t match and to see an agent. Which might not be an issue if, oh, I don’t know…there were any around. So I try again and enter my connection city. Same thing. So I try to ask the guy behind the counter…and he just blows by me. Awesome…and the ‘I hate united’ thoughts begin. 

Luckily, I was able to flag down one of the ladies directing people to kiosks. Of course by then the message is gone, so we have to start over. Destination city, connection city, and confirmation number all yield the same result – ticket does not match itinerary. So she takes me to an agent…

The agent takes my confirmation sheet, ID, and credit card….tells me there isn’t an issue.  Oh wait…the system has kicked me out incase I want to take a direct flight at 9.  Right…cause there’s nothing I want to do more than hang out at the airport for three hours…if they had asked last night, I probably would have taken them up on three more hours of sleep.

To their credit, the two ladies that did help me were very polite and in good spirits for five am.  

Of course, this has taken time, and now I’m hoping I’ll still be able to grab breakfast. And the security line is a cluster…why wouldn’t it be. The guy checking tickets at the end of the line looks at mine and asks me – are you part of a group?  No…not really. I mean, gap travel booked my ticket… Oh wait, he’s asking cause he has my boarding pass…or someone else’s…or just a random handful of them in his pocket…cause that’s normal. Then he decides it’s not mine and lets me go on my merry way. 

Like I said, the conference was fun, but exhausting. I spent the first few days putting together packets and name badges and running from here to there. The highlight – the packing party involving tequila. I worked the registration desk the second day of check in, so got to see a lot of people and hang out with the territory assistants – a great group of ladies!  Biggest learning – it is actually possible to be so tired that the glass of wine three feet away is just too far to grab. 

By the time the conference started, heels were actually more comfortable than running shoes for a day. Until I had to open the door for the mass entrance…haha. It was fine, just a little crazy. I got to ride a roller coaster again – yay evening event at marvel island and the hulk.  I rode it twice – note to self, pee before you get in line for the roller coaster. Haha. I also checked out Spider-Man, which was fun, but hulk was better. And I still like roller coasters :). 

But, like all good things, it had to come to an end.  And, I was ready to get back home. Since then, we’ve been continuing to prep for our trip – six weeks from Saturday…squee!!!!  We have most of our stuff, I took Tuesday off and we went out to the friends and family mountain hardware store and got my gloves and hiking pants. We tried to get prescription sunglasses, but they were going to be $1200….yeah, not happening. I’ll go for daily contacts and sunglasses.  And pray I don’t get an eye infection. But, I did get to make a custom pair of oakleys. That was fun…black and purple, nothing crazy, but still fun.  

I also started taking a typhoid vaccine.  I’m not sure what’s more amusing…the fact that there’s such a thing as a vaccine via pill or the fact that I’m traveling somewhere that I need to have taken said vaccine. It has a host of fun side effects, but I’m half way through and have been ok.  

Other than that, the get back in shape project continues.  I can’t wait to dive into the 50 miler training when I get back. Pirate’s cove, I will conquer you. And muir beach…and the rest of you. Haha. 

Ok….up early for a friend’s 50 miler tomorrow. Until next time….

Long December

So, this probably be a long post, written over several days, because…well, it’s been a long December.  Apparently, the year decided to go out with a bang.

The month started out normal enough…marathon planned, zero training, first trail marathon.  Typical me.  haha.  and, as I mentioned in a previous post, it was so much fun.  I need to train better, but I do really want to do the 50 mile race next year.

After that, it seems like it all went crazy.  Some good crazy, some not so good crazy.  The following Tuesday, I had my last class ever.  Very surreal, and a stressor ’till the end, but it was over. Brian surprised me with some wine and a poster when I got home. Thursday that week our good friends got married at city hall.  It was a beautiful wedding, city hall is really pretty, especially all decorated for Christmas.  I can’t believe I hadn’t been there before.  Following the wedding, we spent the day in Sonoma and had dinner at Seven Hills here in the city.  The following day, my parents arrived for my graduation, which was later that evening.  Graduation was fun, and I still can’t believe it’s over.  But, I am excited to have more free time.

Throughout all of this, Gordon, our oldest cat, got sick and kept getting sicker.  He had stopped eating his regular food, so we changed him to wet food, and he started eating again. The. He stopped eating that…sometimes, he’d pieces of ham, or chicken, and we started feeding him baby food. And then, force feeding him baby food when he quit eating all together.  We took him to the vet, and they couldn’t find anything wrong, and then took him back to the vet, and for an ultrasound. And, they still didn’t see much wrong…a kidney infection, but his numbers weren’t bad.  Ugh…poor kitty.  They gave him pain pills and antibiotics and different food, and he seemed a little better for about a day.  They were going to give him a feeding tube, which was a little more invasive than I wanted to sign up for, but if for some reason getting him to eat was the key to him getting better, I wanted to give him that chance. But then he started to have trouble breathing. We took him back to the vet, and she let us know that there was something pretty bad going on – brain tumor, advanced heart disease, or both. None of which are good. She offered to send us to a specialist, but, what would come of that?  Torture him a little longer to find something we can’t fix?  No, that’s not right. So, we made the tough decision to let him go.  Which, was awful, but the vet was wonderful.  Seven Hills Vet in diamond heights. Highly recommend. Highly. The vet called later that night to let us know she was thinking about us.  Today, we received a card in the mail with a sweet note from the vet and a paw print from our kitty. Very touching and very nice.

Then we were off for the holidays!  Somehow, we flew first class to buffalo – I’m still not sure how we swung that, but it sure was nice. It was nice to get home and see the family and extended family, really busy though. Lots of people to see, but it was a good time. I did have a bottle of wine crack/burst/something in my suitcase, luckily, it didn’t escape the plastic bag it was in. We also ordered a bunch of stuff – coats, pants, etc. for our trip after consulting with Brian’s uncle. Getting excited about that….other than having to buy a bunch more stuff. Fun, but ugh….

Work wasn’t that crazy, what was it I said….an alert a day keeps the boredom away…haha. A couple of fire drills at odd times, who doesn’t love working at 3am ;).  But, it’s been fun, and I had a really good store visit while I was there. However, I am looking forward to some time to relax.

And, now 2013 is coming to a close.  Where did it go?  It really doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was eagerly awaiting the departure of 2012, and  announcing that 2013 was going to be the best year ever. I had goals, wishes, things I was going to accomplish.  Did it all happen?  No, but…I do feel like I’m in a better place than I have been the past couple of years. It must be all about a positive outlook.

So, what was 2013?  It was a year of a second ironman, which I still didn’t finish….it was the year where one of my neighbors tried to blow up the apartment building, nothing like hanging out in the street all afternoon..the Jetta exploded and now we have another car payment….it was the year my first pet died, and I’m sure the year of plenty of other things I don’t care to revisit.

However, it was also the year I turned 30 and had one hell of a party. It was a year where I presented a paper at not one, but two conferences.  It was a year where I got to visit and find my way in Germany and had so much fun doing so. I visited a lot of places – Colorado, Louisville, Raleigh, Chicago, Arizona, Bremen, Hamburg, and I’m sure there are others.  I met up with a lot of friends, both near and far, and realized I know some pretty amazing people. I heard Hillary Clinton speak and saw Kelly Clarkson sing.  I discovered the headlands, and know I will always have a place to lose myself.  I bought a bright green car because I could and drove it home blaring Katy
Perry’s Roar. It was the year I finally got to walk across the stage at USF, something three and a half years in the making. It was a great year, for these reasons and more. But, I’m ready to turn the page.

So, here’s to 2014 – here’s to new adventures and getting back in shape.  Here’s to Everest basecamp and a Rhone river cruise.  Here’s to more free time and finding something to do with it all.  Here’s to another exciting year that’s better than the last.

Best Coworkers and Team Ever!

Quick blog post, because I have the best coworkers and team.  I returned to work after the weekend and two days of PTO, and really feeling like I needed a weekend to recover from my weekend.

As I came down the hallway, towards my desk, I saw what looked like the edge of a congratulations banner.  What I found, and continued to find all day, was so much more.  There was a banner, and balloons, and tinsel, and confetti stars. Who could forget the confetti stars.  No one…and for years to come, no one.  Since they’re all over the building. Literally.  Haha…

Megan told me I had to work all day with the confetti and stars….so of course I did…mad it was a blast!

People came to visit and say congrats all day…my team, my department, my friend Ed, cross functional business partners.  And, every time I came back to my desk, it seemed like something else had shown up – flowers from Kimiko, wine from Lauren….Marie brought brownies and cookies…a card from my entire team.  So nice, and a fabulously unexpected surprise….and I’m sure others had a hand it.  I’m so glad I work with all of you and thank you all so much.

In other news, the vet called….kitty’s tests are normal. Which is good, but he’s still sick. Poor guy.  But, he goes back for some antibiotics tomorrow, as well as some X-rays. Hopefully that helps, he’s a good, nice, cat, and I hope they can help him.

Until next time….

Sometimes, there are no words

Catching up on the blog and attempting to summarize five days in Shanghai in one entry is proving challenging.  Really, I’m finding these entries challenging no matter how many there are.  I can’t even put into words the amount I’ve learned…about people and places and culture.  It’s been a daily discovery of good things, interesting things, and things that are ten times more difficult than they need to be.  But, let’s see…

Arrival…this in and of itself was an adventure.  First, my suitcase was too heavy, and rather than be able to pay some obscene service charge, I had to actually start pulling stuff out and shoving it into my hiking bag. Which, I was pretty sure had a hole and wouldn’t survive being checked.  Awesome…I really didn’t want to be that girl in the airport, but whatever, it was over pretty quick.  Add to that some gross airport food and I was ready to land before we ever took off.

Once we landed, the plane pretty much unloaded on the tarmac.  Slightly odd, and really hot, then you get on a bus to the terminal.  Where it’s time to clear customs. Which would have been fine if the flight attendants had given me the clearance forms, but minor detail I suppose.  So I have to get out of line to go fill out the form.  Which should have been easy, but of course I need an address….and Jaime’s still flying…I see this going well.  So I’m waiting…considering putting down some random hotel – they aren’t going to hunt me down, right?  Then one of the officials comes over and asks if I need help.  Of course, I’m too honest, and tell him I need to find out my friend’s address. Apparently me being in there for so long made them nervous and he let me in with just a phone number.  The upside, my luggage was ready and waiting – old hiking bag made it in one piece.

Finding the driver and getting where I needed to go was easy after that.  Had dinner at a Chinese restaurant on the bund – really cool atmosphere (including tables decked to the 9’s) and amazing food.  Walked around downtown after dinner and took some amazing photos.  Apparently the city has grown so much in the past few years.  Ended the night with massages – I’m still amazed places like that were open late, but it seems like things here open and close later than in the states.

I spent most of Thursday wandering Shanghai – five mile run, Jing’An Temple, Lujiazui, Nanjing Road, and People’s Square.  It was all so cool…and I managed to navigate the subway without getting lost. There are so many people and so many stores, so many large stores.  I had such fun just wandering, and then the temple in the middle of it all.  That’s the coolest part about being here – there’s modern buildings, stores, and whatnot, then turn the corner and there’s a temple or a picturesque old street. Wandering was the perfect way to spend a day, and when I needed a rest, I stumbled upon a park with a restaurant that served coconut water straight out of the coconut.  So yummy!  Once I was tired from wandering, and done being asked to buy a bag or a watch, I met my friend Aimee for a Thai dinner.  So nice to catch up with her after several years.  So good….the food here (aside from McDonald’s) has been amazing. So interesting what happens when you’re not necessarily sure what you’re eating and try just about anything.

I spent Friday traveling stores with Jaime and Ken.  So interesting to see how similar it is to the US and Japan, but also how different. We visited two stores, talked to the store managers, district visual, and Ken explained how the processes here worked.  So interesting to hear about.  We had dim sum for lunch…something else new to me, despite being able to try it in San Francisco, but never having done so.  I may need to do so every once in awhile….it was quite yummy.

Friday night was pretty low key – happy hour at a bar with a great atmosphere – little lanterns dangling from all over the ceiling, and an amazing roof deck.  After a few drinks and appetizers there, we spent the evening wandering the little stores in Jaime’s neighborhood.  Once again, I found it interesting that stuff is open so late there – 24th St. closes at like 7.  She introduced me to the $1 DVD store where you can get just about any new release, or old release for that matter, for a $1.  We popped in several other stores, and a local coffee shop, offering spiked coffee – perfect for a Friday of wandering followed by DVD night.

We were supposed to run and then walk around Shanghai on Saturday, followed by a beer fest.  Then came the rain and out came some more $1 DVD’s.  There was brunch at Mr. Pancake, which reminded me of San Francisco, from the food down to the fact that we were seated right on top of the people next to us….similar to Caron and I at Polk St. Toast.  We did go to the beer fest, which was a ton of fun, despite the rain.  Post beer fest, feeling (and probably looking) like a drowned rat, we went to a hair salon where they wash and blow dry your hair.  Apparently quite popular here, and also lots of fun.  Made getting ready for dinner and a night out much easier.

Dinner was at another Chinese restaurant, I’m totally going to butcher the name, but here goes….Szechwan Kitchen.  Also very good and lots of new stuff to try, including a basil martini – it was kind of like a milkshake, or something.  Then came my introduction to Shanghai nightlife.  I know I don’t get out much, but it was big…so many people…so many places to go, filled with people.  I still don’t know where they all come from.  And so much fun to be a part of, even for a short time.

I forget the name of the place we went on Sunday – lots of little alleys, shops, bars, restaurants, very much reminded of the alleys in Japan.  So much to see and so easy to get lost.  We started with brunch somewhere in the maze, and then wandered.  So much to see and look at – I think I have some photos. American style brunch, but still so good…and I tried a mimosa.  Interesting….not a fan of orange juice, or champagne, but, mixed together, they were actually quite yummy. Then more wandering before we stopped at a cool little bar for a drink…or two….or the rest of the afternoon.  This place was kind of like the cannery, Shanghai style.  There weren’t many people, really five groups throughout the day – tourists on their way to a wedding, expats who’d been there before, expats who hadn’t, a guy with a kitten….a good time and ali, the 20 year-old bar tender makes a great tom collins.  Yay for a drink I understand.  He also made a great shot….ready for this? Tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, tequila, amaretto, and I’m sure a few other things….apparently, if you take a bunch of stuff that’s not so good on its own (other than tequila) and mix it together, it’s also quite yummy.

We met a bunch of interesting people, everyone had a story – where they were, where they were going, where they’d been. Then somehow, Jaime’s playlist became the bar music…and we were behind the bar….and there were panda hats and a bunch of Chinese tourists.  I wish I had turned around when the hat was put on my head…I really have no idea where it came from….

Overall, so much fun.  So much culture and so different from Japan.  Once again, I was sad to leave, but excited to move to my next destination.  Travel started off as an adventure when my atm card didn’t work….however, I did remember that I could take the train to the airport and that I still had a pass for the train.  Not that I was crazy about lugging the suitcase on the train, but I could figure that out.  Luckily, there were more atm’s in the train station and I could get cash there and the driver understood where I needed to go.

Next up – my move to Sanya and the interesting, yet challenging time I’ve had since arriving….

farewell tokyo

last night in tokyo…i havent left yet, but looking back at everything ive seen, done, and learned, im pretty sure i miss it already.  the alleys that lead to a whole different section of shops, restaurants, and people….the people in full suits speeding down the sidewalk on bikes, the lady fighting with her basset hound on the sidewalk.  its very new york, but totally tokyo.

ive spent the past day and a half with the gap/old navy japan team, and they were wonderful.  we had lunch…and dinner….and i met…so many people.  from ops to hr, gap to value.  there was so much information, and as excited as i was to meet them and hear about what they do, they wanted to hear about what i was doing, and what things are like in the US.  they were curious about my bike ride through the city, thought i was good at eating with chopsticks, and brave for staying in one of the busiest areas of the city and venturing out to restaurants.

yesterday started with tb’s and coffee with brent and a solo visit to the gap store nearby, then an authentic japanese dinner with a few members of the hr team and ops team.  today, more tb’s – several hours with old navy operations – my biggest learning – japanese custom – customers like people to go to their house to apologize.  then, an authentic lunch with the ops team, and a tb with the head of all stores/brands in japan.

then, a visit to the odaiba mall where the old navy store will be.  its not open yet, but old navy is on the side of the mall, and there is a marketing store set up in part of it.  the windows and super modelquins are set up as well, and energetic associates are greeting potential customers and encouraging them to come into the store and check it out, and of course, leave their email address.  they have the ability to view the merchandise via ipad, check out old navy’s history, and watch clips of the latest commercials.

i was also able to go behind the black curtain and see the set up of the store as it exists today…..boothsets, quick changes, fitting rooms….the gm walked us through all of it.  theyre so excited to open the store – the energy was contagious.

the day finished with dinner with brent at the best mexican place hes found.  it was off the beaten path, down a narrow, narrow alley – more so than any ive seen in san francisco, in a cool, hipster, chill, neighborhood.  great dinner, great conversation, perfect way to end my stay in tokyo.

as i look back at the past….four or five days, i continue to realize how big the world really is.  here there are so many people, all doing there own thing, and content to let you do your own as well.  tokyo is a clean and safe city….as much time as i spent walking around, i never once felt unsafe.  and everyone has been so helpful, even if it did involve playing charades.  there is a lot i can do, and for a few days, was able to get by, but i have a lot to learn….and am very small compared with the big picture.

as a side note, my first and really only negative experience – the washer/dryer in the hotel. the directions were awful, to the point that they were wrong.  someone from the front desk comes up, with different, correct directions – starts the thing, but doesnt leave the directions.  it gets done several hours later….and is damp/bordering wet.  of course, i dont have the correct directions to start only the dryer.  i need to pack everything and now cant….and oh wait, my pajamas were in there too.  awesome….was hoping i could sleep in wet pjs….

and my phone just told me i have bootcamp in 10 minutes…this time change thing is wacky…

as fun as tokyo has been, and as much as i will miss it, i am excited to move on to the next leg of my journey.  im sure it will be just as amazing.

so, heres to farewell to tokyo, to an amazing time in china, heres to so many more lessons learned, and to being able to access my blog for the next two and a half weeks.

not all who wander are lost…

well, sometimes they are, but they can just jump in a cab, and then find out the hotel is only a few blocks away ;).

so, today was amazing.  great cycling tour around the city…..navigating the subway….losing myself on the way back to the hotel. and, learning, way more than i ever thought possible.

the day started with the complimentary hotel breakfast.  when i checked in, they gave me a coupon for each day.  outside the breakfast area was a little box – drop breakfast coupons here.  that was it…no one checking, or anything.  im finding that everyone is very trusting and overall, the city feels very safe.  breakfast was simple – croissant type things and corn flake type things over japanese mtv and nicki minaj…..we export the best stuff….

i had to take the train to get to the bike tour, which was a little daunting, despite the directions provided by the hotel.  the machines werent in english…i wasnt sure which one to use…luckily, i found someone to help me.  once i had the ticket, it was really no more daunting than NYC.  and really, the train was easy compared to actually walking around.  trying to find the cycling place after getting off the train – pretty much impossible, despite the help of two different convenience store employees.  despite a phone call to the place, it still took some time to figure out.  between that, and trying to get back to the hotel after getting all turned around, it makes me wonder.  how many people like myself have i passed by?  i cant remember any, but im sure that i have.

the bike tour was fantastic – i didnt know it was possible to see so much of a city in a day: parks, shrines, temples, the imperial palace, sumo wrestlers, university of tokyo, trying a japanese sweet treat and japanese beer….the list goes on and on.  and the impromptu ladies in traditional dress and mobile shrine.  there were only five us, including two guys from san francisco, and two guides, so the whole thing felt very personal.

it was also a day to learn – they keep to the left, not to the right…but from what i could tell, it was only a rule of thumb.  maybe because it was sunday, so things werent as crowded.  bikes are allowed on the sidewalk, but this doesnt change the pedestrian traffic flow.  they still walk where ever, whenever.  add to that, bikes flying at you in the other direction, and its quite the adventure.

tomorrow, i think a run is in order, then, half a day with the japan team.  fingers crossed i can find the office….